Northern Exposure: National Bill On Sports Betting Advertising Gets First Committee Hearing

Each week, Canada Sports Betting recaps all the top sports betting and iGaming news in Canada and highlights upcoming events.

Our top stories this week

Event of the week

NHL Stanley Cup Final

Can the Edmonton Oilers become the first Canadian team to hoist the Stanley Cup since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens? We’re about to find out, as the Stanley Cup Final gets underway on Saturday in Florida between the Panthers and Oilers.

Most online sportsbooks have the Panthers as small favourites (between -120 and -140) over the Oilers in the series and Edmonton centre Connor McDavid is the odds-on favourite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy at around +190 depending on where you shop.

NHL schedulers have really spread out some of the games and the series could extend all the way to June 24 for a potential Game 7, if needed. If the best-of-seven series goes the distance, it doesn’t leave much time before the NHL Draft, which is scheduled for June 28/29 in Las Vegas.

Bill S-269 gets first committee reading in Senate

Bill S-269, the National Framework on Advertising for Sports Betting Act, had its first committee hearing on Tuesday in the Senate.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Marty Deacon in June of last year to establish a new national framework on advertising for sports betting in the wake of the legalization of single-event sports wagering, was discussed for two hours by the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications.

Senator Deacon began the session with her opening remarks stating, “Gambling will be ingrained into the culture of sport as much as competing on the field of play is. Since introducing this legislation, I’ve heard from countless parents, expressing their concern that their children, some younger than 10, have asked about placing bets after seeing these [gambling] ads. And, they’re inescapable. If you’re watching sports in this country, you’re being encouraged to gamble.”

Various members of the committee agreed that the barrage of ads associated with the regulation of sports betting, particularly in Ontario, is troubling for Canadian society, particularly those vulnerable to gambling issues. This bill seeks to limit and restrict the volume of sports betting advertisements to protect young people, in particular.

Quebec Senator Leo Housakos, who voted for the passage of Bill C-218 (single-event sports wagering) in 2021, admitted during the session he was “torn” on whether or not his decision to vote for the bill was “wise” or not.

Ontario’s sports betting regulatory body, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, recently amended its standards on sports betting advertising, banning the use of celebrities and/or current and former athletes from endorsing operator products unless it pertains to a responsible gambling message. Senator Deacon sees this as a positive step in that jurisdiction, but she would like to take it a step further and completely ban celebrities and athletes from appearing in any of these ads on a national level without the loophole of responsible gambling.

The Responsible Gambling Council, which is based in Toronto, is currently conducting some potentially groundbreaking research on the potential harmful effects of the barrage of sports betting advertising associated with the launch of Ontario’s regulated market. Those findings could be released later this year, and depending on the results, they could fuel more debate and momentum surrounding the creation of a national framework for sports betting advertising.

In Canada, the provinces currently regulate commercial gambling in their respective jurisdictions, not the federal government. Ontario is currently the only province to regulate its online sports betting space, but Alberta is also interested in embracing private operators to compete in its local marketplace with its provincial lottery corporation. We could see another boom of sports betting advertisements if and when that market launches, depending on the advertising regulations established by the province. There’s momentum towards the launch of a regulated market in Alberta by early 2025.

This bill still has a long way to go before it potentially becomes law. After receiving two readings in the Senate since being introduced in June of last year, a second committee hearing will take place, followed by the report stage. A third reading will then be required in the Senate before the bill is passed on to the House of Commons for another long, exhaustive legislative process.

MLB suspends five players for gambling activity

Major League Baseball suspended five players on Tuesday for violating the league’s sports betting rules and policies.

San Diego Padres infielder/outfielder Tucupita Marcano was placed on the permanently ineligible list after MLB discovered he wagered more than $150,000 (USD) on baseball, including more than $87,000 on MLB markets. Marcano placed 231 MLB-related bets, including 25 on the Pittsburgh Pirates while he was assigned to the club. He won just 4.3% of his MLB-related bets overall, so he obviously wasn’t a very shrewd bettor.

Four other players – Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly and minor leaguers Jay Groome (Padres system), Jose Rodriguez (Phillies), and Andrew Saalfrank (Diamondbacks) – received one-year suspensions for other gambling-related violations.

Under Major League Rule 21: โ€œAny player, umpire or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.โ€ The rule also states that betting on any baseball game โ€œin connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.โ€

MLB says, “The betting data does not suggest that any outcomes in the games bet on by these players were compromised, influenced or manipulated in any way.”

None of the players plan to appeal the suspensions, according to MLB.

MLB reiterated in the release that all players must participate annually in sports betting education.

The news comes after a massive sports betting scandal involving Shohei Ohtani and his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.