For staunch supporters, the years-long push for legalized single-event sports betting in Canada has felt like a marathon, but suddenly the finish line feels like it is within reach.
Last week, Bill C-218 passed a second reading vote, bringing another significant step forward in the process of decriminalizing single-event sports betting. Debates on Bill C-218 are expected to be heard by the Justice Committee this week.
Before it can become law in Canada, Bill C-218 still needs to pass several more stages, but with the finish line now in sight, the conversation around single-event sports betting is slowly moving from ‘if and when’ to ‘how.’
Here’s a cold dose of reality Amidst the discussion over legalizing single-event sports betting: B.C. This kind of bet is already being made by players. They do so either on illegally operating grey-market websites in B.C., or by heading south of the border to Washington State casinos, none of which share profits with the Province of B.C. or prioritize players’ health.
BCLC expects an extra $125 million to $175 million in revenue to fund community programs, healthcare and education in B.C. if the federal government legalizes single-event sports betting. But most importantly, we know that regulated gambling organizations are best suited to provide it in a way that safeguards players’ health in the provinces and territories.
Robust player-health safeguards are now embedded into PlayNow.com, B.C.’s only regulated online gaming platform in this province. In reality, PlayNow.com is North America’s only gambling website and one of the few in the world with dedicated player health specialists, known as GameSense Advisors, available via chat and telephone to assist players with healthy gambling habits.
GameSense Advisors are also in every B.C. casino and community gaming center. They provide players with useful information and resources about how all games operate and their odds and would be an additional resource to support healthy play with the increased opportunities for sports betting that would open up along with the legalization of a single bet.
For years B.C. players have asked for the opportunity to place legal single-event sports bets. BCLC is already at the table and ready to offer this to our players in a safe and responsible way.
It’s time for Bill C-218 to be passed by the federal government to make this a reality.
Stewart Groumoutis is director of eGaming operations for the British Columbia Lottery Corp.