The sports betting fans of the country are ever closer to Nirvana wagering, with a significant change expected to come soon.
One key piece of legislation for gamblers is on the table as the House of Commons started its 2021 meetings on Monday. It’s Bill C-13 and it effectively rewrites the betting laws of the Canadian Gaming Association to include single-event wagering.
The site of the Parliament of Canada shows the first of the three required House of Commons readings scheduled for this week.
Here’s a brief overview of what the country’s sports betting landscape was, is, and is going to become.
The Canadian rule of law currently states that single-game events do not allow gambling.
On the sports menu, Canadian bettors do have a (very limited) set of options. A lottery-style wager in which a parlay of many teams is required to win is the primary form. And the winnings are nominal, given the poor odds attached. (More on this form of gambling below.)
The existence of big-time illegal sites continues as long as the criminal code stipulates single-event wagering to be against the law. As demand has risen, so has the illegal betting market, too, and wading in those waters is risky, considering that organized crime regulates and funds many shady companies.
And that’s a big reason why the association is in favor of the new legislation legalizing single-sports betting. The amount legally invested on current wagering forms is around $500 million a year, but the CGA estimates that Canadians place approximately $4 billion in offshore (illegal) bets and up to $14 billion in bets through unregulated and/or illegal markets.
The new newfound urgency to pass the bill is directly related to the landmark decision in the United States, which opened up betting in 2018 for a single event, although the details differ from state to state. The provinces will be tasked with licensing and regulation if the Canadian ban was lifted.
The 2020 elections in the US saw the legalization of sports gambling by six more states, raising the number of participating states to 25. In addition to Washington DC, according to the American Gaming Association, 44 states have at least some form of casino gaming, including sports betting.
According to Ron Segev of the Vancouver-based law firm Segev LLP in a story appearing on canadiangamingbusiness.com, the star of the show has been New Jersey, estimated to be the third-largest sports betting market in the world now.
Segev was struck by the fact that Ontario has almost twice the population of New Jersey. Segev said that “I don’t think we can overstate how exciting the market opportunity is in Ontario alone.”
The longtime taboo nature of legalized sports gambling has seen critics fade into the background, and the global attitude has not gone unnoticed as public figures embrace the “protect the people” stance.
Justice Minister David Lametti said in a news conference that “The goal of the legislation is simple. It is to bring a common practice out of the shadows and into the open. To make it legal, regulated, and safe.”
The Canadian Liberal Government introduced the legislation in Parliament at the end of last year, but it was not discussed by the time Dec. 11 was adjourned by the House of Commons. In the next two months, it will be signed into law.
According to the Toronto Star, the leaders of the major North American sports leagues sent a letter in support of the bill to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this past summer.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, along with Don Garber (Major League Soccer) and Randy Ambrosie from the Canadian Football League signed on.
As an example, let’s take Joe Canada, our fictional sports-betting enthusiast.
Right now, Joe is limited to the “Proline” lottery wagering system in Ontario, which requires the selection of at least three winners in a parlay. Not only that, the format allows Joe to pick specifics like these for the NFL:
- V+ Visitor team to win by 8 or more
- V Visitor team to win by 4 or more
- T◊ Tie Within 3 or less
- H Home team to win by 4 or more
- H+ Home team to win by 8 or more
Yes, the odds are favoring the house. In a critical comment by canadasportsbetting.ca here, a great example is covered:
A classic example of how the scheme of five odds helps the house. As the Carolina vs Oakland final score was 35-32, bettors who correctly expected the Giants, Patriots, and Raiders will win, actually lost as the three-point spread allows bettors to pick a TIE on their Pro-Line bets.
Clearly, for legitimate sports wagering opportunities, Joe Canada is starved. And that result, whether it happens this spring, summer or fall, is widely seen by industry insiders as a likely development.
Joe will be able to take a look at the app on his phone in his new world and consider these among his myriad wagering options:
The Toronto Raptors are his favorite NBA team and he just likes their chances. He likes Fred VanVleet as well. He will dump $20 on the Raptors with the bill’s passage and implementation to cover the spread and also be able to consider the over/under for the points scored that night by VanVleet.
Perhaps Joe heads out to the game arena and gets really caught up in the action and wants to take part by playing an in-game betting prop. Who gets the most points in the fourth quarter, or the winning basket?
Joe’s in for a busy evening. We hope his family will understand.
CGA president Paul Burns told the Toronto Star that “The hope is that by fall, even Labour Day, we will see expanded sports betting offerings out there. It shouldn’t have taken this long. But the finish line is in sight.”