How Canada’s Sportsbetting Bill is Dividing the Lines

Currently in debate in Ottawa is a bill that would legalize single game sportsbetting for Canadians and tourists.  For big games like the Stanley Cup Final, the Superbowl, the Grey Cup, and the World Series; this is a great way to build on the excitement already surrounding those games.  Gamers have legally been able to bet on sports for years, but at a minimum of three games per bet.  This new law would allow the championship games, the biggest games in the world to receive the same kind of gaming hype.

The bill is expected to pass, needing just one final reading in the Senate to be made law.  Supporters of the bill, including many casinos and sportsbetting operators, hope that the new law will bring more Americans back across the border for the big games and boost tourism in border towns.

However, the proposed change faces opposition from some big industry names.  Paul Beeston, president of the Toronto Blue Jays, spoke before the Senate this week with the argument that the new change would question the integrity of games in the MLB and all sports leagues.  Beeston argued that players may be willing to take a fall due to bribes, citing the 1919 Chicago White Sox throwing their chances at the World Series.

More alarming is what the big leagues now say is an option on the table if the bill becomes law.  The NCAA removed any championship games from taking place in New Jersey when it legalized sportsbetting.  The NBA, the NFL, and most alarming for Canadians is the NHL, all saying they could prevent any new sports teams from expanding or relocating to Canada if this new bill is passed into law.

Supporters of the bill say opposition from the leagues is outdated with today’s technology.  Players in Ontario are already able to go online and make a wager on a game, which Riseley Gaming CEO Jim Warren says has less regulation than what the bill is proposing.  The new law would require gamers to make their bet at a physical casino, on camera, and bets over $10,000 will be logged into the casino records.  Warren says as long as the necessary precautions are put in place, single game sportsbetting could provide new excitement for games while still maintaining the integrity of the sports leagues.

If the bill is passed, it is expected single game betting operations will be established before the Superbowl.

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