Federal Justice System Passes Single Bet Bill, But There's Still Work to be Done
The amended C-218 bill to legalize single-game sports betting in Canada was unanimously passed yesterday. While it feels like this is a step in the right direction, there are still some barriers blocking citizens from gaining access to comprehensive online wagering.
The amendment to the bill was passed, excluding one slight alteration that the committee of Justice and Human Rights decided to change, which would have allowed Canadians to bet on horse racing markets.
Horse Racing Excluded from Single Bets Bill
While this may seem like another hurdle for bettors, there is certainly a good case for excluding horse racing. The horse racing industry relies upon the mutual betting system currently in operation in Canada — which if it were to change, would jeopardize some 50,000 jobs across the nation.
That bill now heads to the Senate, where the committee will have a third reading before making a decision. While this bill is very important to some parties, it’s low down on the list of priorities, so the House of Commons is unlikely to complete the third reading until May. The bill has a long way to go before it meets the point where the gambling community can freely enjoy the fruits of online wagering.
Online wagering has been a long-standing issue within Canadian politics, with a number of representatives from the Conservative Party of Canada pushing for change. The bill is backed mainly by Conservative MPs, although there is broader support across a number of other parties. There is a possibility that the bill may be pushed forward, but this depends on a number of factors and it could easily end up untouched until mid-May. The Easter break compounds the issue, as the House shuts during this period and work won’t resume until April 12th.
Photographer: David Kawai/Bloomberg Justin Trudeau
Further issues if the PM calls for a Snap Election
There are rumblings of the possibility that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may move to dissolve Parliament and call for elections in June. It was as early as January this year when Trudeau made claims that we could see an election in 2021.
The decision would be disastrous for the bill. It would mean that the bill would be scrapped and members of the committee wouldn’t table it again until 2022, at the very earliest.
Another stumbling block for the single-bet bill is the fact it’s not a government member bill, which would garner much more support in the chamber. A similar situation occurred back in 2014, only for the bill to fall apart. It was Canadian Attorney General David Lametti that filed the sports betting bill, but the administration twice decided not to have the committee consider it.
Moreover, there is a possibility that the Senate could make a further amendment. While some speculate about the possibility of additional changes coming from the Judiciary Committee, it could be more likely that changes would come from the top. The consideration for involving indigenous nations and allowing them to participate in online betting could be an amendment that we see from the Senate. But, once again, this would cause further delays to any progress towards passing the bill.
Conservative MPs, the gambling community, and a number of external influences would like to see the changes made to the C-218, allowing single-game sports betting in Canada. Pro-line has served the country for a long-time and created an industry, but Parimutuel betting is a thing of the past.
To make real progress, provinces need to be given the ability to license operators and give citizens access to online sports wagering. The archaic betting practices currently in operation only allow for parlay betting, which is less lucrative than with online providers. It seems inevitable that this bill will go through, it’s just a question of when. Right now, there is momentum and those in favor of the amendment must continue to pursue change.