Canada's Single Event Betting Bill removes final hurdle

Canadian lawmakers have voted to pass legislation that for the first time allows sports betting on select events in the Great White North.

Bill C-218 was passed by the Canadian Senate by a vote of 57 to 20, paving the way for royal approval of the bill, after which it would become law.

The bill was initially successfully passed in the Canadian House of Commons in February.

The law decriminalizes Single Event Sports Betting (SEB), giving provincial governments the power to legislate full-scale betting in their jurisdiction.

Betting on Pari-mutuel horse racing, which is already legal in Canada, has been removed from the bill and will continue to be regulated by Canada's Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA).

Its passage completes a decade-long journey towards SEB legislation in Canada that seemingly failed in 2015, when a similar bill, created by Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, successfully passed the House, was eventually derailed by parliamentary elections.

A second attempt at legalization by the New Democratic and Conservative parties failed to win parliamentary support for the then ruling Liberal Party of Canada in 2016.

However, in November the Liberal Party introduced its own bill, a bill that was later defeated in favor of a modified version of Waugh's earlier bill to include protections for the horse racing industry, which received approval from all four of Canada's major parties.

"This is a significant milestone and achievement for the Canadian gaming industry," said Paul Burns, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA).

“The CGA has been working to legalize single-event sports betting for over 10 years, and Bill C-218 has received widespread support from stakeholders across Canada.

"The need for regulation, oversight, protection of players and creation of economic benefits for Canada was understood by everyone involved in the legislative process, so the bill was successfully passed," Burns added.

An attempt to amend the law at the last minute was supported by 20 senators but was ultimately defeated. The changes would send the bill back to the House of Commons for further consideration, potentially derailing its passage due to mandatory summer recess.

Canada's provinces, including British Columbia and Ontario, are expected to be already gearing up for regulated operations, with Ontario targeting the first SEB regulations in the fall, ahead of a possible launch by the end of the year.

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) said it would propose SEB as soon as the bill receives royal approval.

“This is a huge win for players and British Columbians in general,” said Linda Cavanaugh, BCLC Interim President and CEO.

"We're thrilled to bring these new offerings to our players soon on, which is BC's only legal gambling website that generates important revenue for the province of BC to support things like healthcare, education and community programs." Cavanaugh added.

John Levy, President and CEO of Toronto-based bookmaker and scores updater theScore, welcomed the legislation, adding: “The forthcoming legalization of single event sports betting represents a significant growth opportunity for our integrated media and betting business.

“We are actively preparing for the expansion of online sports betting and gambling in our home province of Ontario, which is expected to begin later this year, and we are very well positioned to succeed, given our experience in mobile betting and an extensive active base. users,” Levy added.

The firm has proposed a potential online gambling market in Canada worth between $4.3 billion and $5.4 billion a year.

Entain, LeoVegas, Gamesys and DraftKings are among other operators expected to expand their offerings in Canada after the legislation passes.