When Parliament shut down for the summer and was later prorogued in September, many supporters of sportsbetting reform in Canada expected the potential for reform to end as well. However, a new update from government insiders suggests the single-bet sportsbetting bill is still alive in the Senate.
The sportsbetting bill, known as Bill C-290, was introduced to reform Canada’s outdated sportsbetting system in a modern gaming environment. Under current Canadian law, players must bet on a minimum of three separate sports or events to legally place the wager.
MP Joe Comartin, who first introduced Bill C-290 in 2011, argues that online casinos and sportsbetting sites based in locations outside Canada accept single game bets. Canadian law also allows players to use these offshore gambling domains, and Canadians became accustomed players on these sites.
Comartin wanted to reform the sportsbetting laws to authorize single game bets at land-based sites within Canada. Analysts say billions of taxable gaming revenue leaves Canada every year due to offshore sites. Comartin and his supporters believe Canadians feel it is unfair to be forced to bet on three separate matches in today’s environment.
When Bill C-290 was put before the House of Commons, it passed with near unanimous consent onto the Senate for a second round. After the first two motions in the Senate passed the bill onto its final reading, sportsbetting reform suddenly came up against roadblocks – chiefly from defiant Senators, who suddenly switched their positions on the bill.
Rather than put Bill C-290 to a third and final vote, the Senate delayed any action on the legislation, intending to let the bill die with the summer break. When Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament beginning September 13, all government bills not given “royal assent” with a Senate vote and signature from the Governor General were terminated.
However, Bill C-290 was introduced privately by Comartin, who is a member of the NDP and not the Conservative government. As a result, his legislation avoided the axe, and subsequently remained alive in the Senate when Parliament began again on October 16.
Senators are unlikely to table the sportsbetting bill anytime soon, which means single-game reform will continue to be delayed. However, reformists can pick up where they left off rather than beginning the process again in the House of Commons. Legal single game bets in Canada could be much closer than we may think.