Legal News: Bill C-218 In Third Reading
Legal

Legal News: Bill C-218 In Third Reading

Single-sports betting in Canada has taken another giant step toward legalization. Bill C-218, known as The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, was passed through Canada's Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce last week and started the Third Senate Reading on Thursday, June 10th. The committee agreed to pass the bill and reported the bill to the Senate on Tuesday, June 8th without amendment. This bill would legalize single-game sports wagering, including online and mobile wagering across all of Canada.

Bill C-218: No Amendments

  • The Canadian Senate will begin the final reading of Bill C-218 on Thursday, June 10th
  • The Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce passed Bill C-218, which would legalize single-sports betting across Canada, without amendment
  • Should the bill be passed through the full Senate by the end of this session, single-sports betting could be legal in Canada as early as the fall of 2021

The finish line appears to be nearing Bill C-218, which would legalize single-sports betting across all Canadian provinces. Last last week, the Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce passed the bill without amendment. The bill was reported to the full Senate on Tuesday, June 8th.

According to the Senate's legislative process, when a committee reports a bill back to the appointed chamber without amendments, it will be deemed adopted. Following that report, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, Senator David Wells of Newfoundland and Labrador, moved for the third and final reading of the bill to be taking place at the next sitting of the Senate.

That process is slated to get underway during the Senate's regular session on Thursday, June 10th.

Legalized Single Sports Betting Nearer

Should Canadian sports bettors be excited that they will finally be able to place single sports wagers anywhere in the country? Yes and no.

The Senate moving the bill forward without amendment greatly reduced the possibility of a long and drawn-out debate over the details contained within the bill. Any changes, even minor ones, held the potential to slow the process down significantly, as those alterations would require debate in the Senate chambers.

That being the case, the fact of the matter is that time is rapidly running out on the current sessions of Parliament and the Senate. Both houses are scheduled to enter into recess on June 25th. That leaves a little over two weeks to get Bill C-218 officially sent to the Governor-General for Royal Assent, which would be the final step in the process toward the bill becoming a law.

Cautiously Optimistic

Kevin Waugh, the Conservative MP for Saskatoon-Grasswood, whose private member's bill launched the process of Bill C-218 into action, remains hopeful that single-game sports betting will soon be legalized. But he's enough of a realist that he won't allow himself to get too excited by the prospects of it becoming a reality.

"I don't want to get my hopes up because I've seen some very good private member's bills die for no good reason," Waugh, an MP since 2015, told the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. "I'm encouraged because I've reached out to the five Senate groups and they seem to want to move this forward."

That being said, Waugh has spent enough time involved in politics to recognize that the flow from bill to law rarely travels in a straight line.

"There could be a roadblock, so you never know what you're going to get in committee."

The Next Steps

During the upcoming stage of the third reading in the Senate, it is possible for amendments to the bill to be proposed by members of the Senate. However, should no amendments be accepted and inserted into the bill, that would speed up the process of passage into law considerably?

An unchanged bill would not be required to be returned to the House of Commons for further debate. Bill C-218 could go straight to the Governor-General in order to receive Royal Assent. Since Julie Payette tendered her resignation as Canada's Governor-General on January 22nd, Canadian Chief Justice Richard Wagner is currently tasked with performing the duties of the office as administrator of Canada.

Upon receiving Royal Assent, the bill is officially law. It would be then up to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet to establish a date upon which single sports betting would be legal in Canada.

Canadian Chamber Of Commerce Advocates Passage

Among those who testified in front of the Senate regarding Bill C-218 was Perrin Beatty. He's the President and CEO of Canada's Chamber of Commerce. Beatty is a former Conservative MP who served in the cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada. Beatty noted that sports betting in Canada isn't illegal and spoke adamantly in favour of the passage of Bill C-218, citing the aid it could provide struggling businesses hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Canada has had legal sports wagering for decades and this bill does not represent an expansion of gambling," Beatty wrote in his presentation to the Senate. "The pandemic has had a severe impact on the sports and entertainment sectors, and having this product more widely available will be a tremendous benefit as companies build back their businesses. Additionally, enacting Bill C-218 will keep economic activity in Canada for the benefit of government revenue bases, businesses, and local communities.

"I would urge the Committee to expedite its study to enable passage and Royal Assent before Parliament's Summer recess."

A Boost To TV Ratings?

Canadian all-sports network TSN suggested that the adoption of legalized single-sports betting could provide a windfall of $1.5 million to $2 million a season for the country's nine Canadian Football League clubs. TSN is the official broadcaster of the CFL.

TSN CFL analyst Glen Suitor, who played for the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders, went as far as to suggest that single-sports betting could provide an uptick in television sports ratings.

"At halftime, a fan can get a beer and make a bet that Cody Fajardo will throw for 100 or 150 yards and (the fan) will take the over in the second half," Suitor told the Star-Phoenix. "They will not only stay at the game but will watch it on TV to see if their bet is covered.

"I really think you're going to see a dramatic change in TV ratings and attendance with single-game betting."