September saw a blow to sports betting fans in Canada, as the government ruled that it would not pass the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act. The guys on the Lucky Nugget news team have looked into the news further, to find out what it means for sports betting in the country as a whole.

Sports gambling in Canada

Casinos in America often offer sports betting alongside games.

Canada has laws which control casinos, online gambling, and sports betting. However, sports betting can be difficult: you have to bet on multiple sporting events, rather than just placing money on one game at a time. The current legislation, as outlined in paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code, means that Canadian bookmakers can only offer parlay sports bets, which encompass at least two different games.

The bill was hoping to make single-game bets legal. Canadians would therefore be able to place bets on the outcome of a single match rather than committing to multiple games.

So, while Canadian sports betting agencies have to offer bets on a series of games or events, offshore companies are immune to these rules. Many Canadians use these international companies instead, as it’s easier to place bets and they’re offered better odds. They also aren’t limited to parlay bets, letting them place money on single games without breaking the law.

The bill’s defeat

sports betting
Brian Masse MP introduced the private member’s bill to Parliament.

There was a fairly tight vote on the bill, which failed in Parliament with a 156-133 vote – a margin of only 23 votes. It had been introduced by New Democratic Party MP Brian Masse, whose constituency includes the area around Caesars Windsor Casino in Ontario. Masse was very disappointed with the vote, stating that “organized crime is celebrating and popping a cork.”

He estimated that the profits from increased betting could have produced $10 billion annually, which the government could then have taxed. Masse also estimated that another $4 billion is spent by Canadians using off-shore betting companies. This is in stark contrast to the $500 million that’s spent on provincial sports lottery games.  Regardless, there was the potential for the Canadian government to create more income by legalizing single-game gambling, and the opportunity hasn’t been taken.

It’s not the first time that single-game betting has been suggested: in 2012, the (C-290) was passed by the lower House of Commons but failed to pass the Senate. Thanks to the way Canada’s parliament works, the bill cannot be introduced again until after the next federal election. That will take place in October 2019, meaning that single-game sports gambling won’t be legalized before that point in time.

Nobody has provided a statement yet about why the bill was rejected, but it could be to do with fears over problem gambling. Alternatively, it may simply have been a party issue: the Liberal Party have the majority in the Canadian parliament, while the New Democrats only have 44 MPs and needed to rely on cross-party support to push the bill through.

No matter how frustrating it may be for Canadian sports bettors, there are always options for people who want to bet. Off-shore betting is legal so long as the company isn’t licensed in Canada. While the country is missing out on extra revenue, there are legal ways around this which mean you can still bet on sports events.

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