On Thursday, a committee of the Canadian Parliament unanimously approved an amended bill to legalize single-game sports betting. However, there are still some challenges to clear before people in the Great White North can begin downloading apps.
C-218 was amended by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights to exclude horse racing from the list of activities that sportsbooks could offer. Before recommending the bill for a third reading in the House of Commons, committee members made just that change.
MP Vance Badawey, Liberal-Niagara Center said that “The horse racing industry’s primary source of revenue is wagering through the pari-mutuel system of betting. We must, Madam chair, move to protect this revenue stream for the benefit of approximately 50,000 jobs across Canada.”
That third reading is the last step before it heads to the Senate. After the committee meeting, bill sponsor Kevin Waugh, Conservative-Saskatoon-Grasswood, told Casino.org that the bill still has a long way to go.
Since it is a private member’s bill rather than one sponsored by the government, it’s slated to go to the bottom of the House’s priority list. According to Waugh, this means that the third reading will not take place until mid-May.
He added that “Unless I can change with somebody. I haven’t had those discussions because it was in Justice Committee.”
Waugh is a Conservative member, but that doesn’t mean he will have to swap spots with another Conservative member’s bill in order to get a third reading next month. The bill also has supporters within other parties as well.
This weekend, Canadian lawmakers will begin a two-week Easter break. They’ll start working again on April 12th.
It’s important to expedite the third reading because there’s a speculation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will dissolve Parliament this spring and call elections in June.
If that were to happen, the bill’s dead,” Waugh told Casino.org. “We would start all over again, and this bill would not come forward until at the very earliest 2022.”
And if it doesn’t happen, the bill has no guarantee of passing the Senate. Waugh said a similar initiative made it there back in 2014, only to languish. Although there are some supporters of the bill in that chamber, it will not receive the same priority as a bill sponsored by a government member.
David Lametti, Canada’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, has proposed his own version of the sports betting bill. It would have received legislative priority as a government bill. Waugh, on the other hand, said that the administration twice refused to have Lametti’s bill approved by the committee.
Waugh said that “And that’s why I jumped ahead of them, because they delayed it twice in the House. And then when they delayed it the second time on Jan. 29, I said to myself, are they playing games, or are they serious about this bill?”
Waugh added that horse racing interests also delayed his bill and pushed to get the protection Lametti included in his legislation into C-218.
There was also talk of adding historical horse racing to tracks to help them supplement their purses for horsemen at a Judiciary Committee meeting earlier this week. There was “zero chance” of amending the bill to include HHR, according to Waugh.
According to Waugh, if any further amendments are proposed, that would occur in the Senate. It’s likely that lawmakers there will change the bill to allow indigenous nations to participate. Waugh, on the other hand, added that this would cause the bill to be delayed even further.
If passed, C-218 will amend the law in Canada to allow single-game sports betting. At the moment, only less lucrative parlay betting is permitted. The provinces will be able to approve sports betting and license operators under Waugh’s bill.
John Levy, the CEO of theScore, is one of the supporters of the measure. Sports betting licenses are currently held by the Canadian-based sports media company in four states.
Levy said that “Strong momentum continues for regulated sports betting in Canada. Now, back to the House for 3rd reading. We urge Parliament to pass this bill quickly.”