Is Senate Opposition To Sportsbetting Bill Nothing More Than Political Gamesmanship?


The Canadian sportsbetting bill was introduced by the NDP to legalize single game bets.  The motion has been supported by organizations and agencies across the country, but has come up against considerable opposition in the Senate.  Reports suggest Conservative senators are using the sportsbetting bill to challenge what Canadians see as Stephen Harper’s “rubber stamp” in the Senate, and plan to delay passage of the bill as long as possible.

The sportsbetting bill, known as Bill C-290, was drafted to adapt Canada’s gambling laws to modern technology.  The current law says Canadians must place bets on a minimum of three different games, but the NDP says gamblers prefer to bet on single games.  Online casinos and sportsbetting sites that operate in international jurisdictions allow Canadians to bet on single matches, despite being unregulated by gambling commissions in Canada.  If passed into law, Bill C-290 would legalize single game bets at licensed casinos across Canada in order to keep gambling revenue within the country.

The bill has come up against serious opposition in the Senate, which must vote on the bill before it becomes law.  The North American major sports leagues all objected to the sportsbetting bill, and submitted claims to the Senate that legalized single game bets would increase cases of match-fixing.  Conservative Senator Norm Doyle says the recent European soccer scandal – where at least 680 games have been influenced by match-fixing – adds credibility to claims made by the leagues, and the Senate deserves time to review the bill.

We’re doing exactly what we should be doing – taking our time to look at this in a sober manner.  It’s a bill that could be very dangerous to the sports industry.”

However, political analysts describe the opposition as more sinister in nature.  Stephen Harper filled many of the vacant seats in the Senate with partisan Conservative supporters in order to gain majority control of the upper house.  Critics argue that the Senate has become nothing more than a rubber stamp for the Prime Minister.  As a result, Conservative senators are revolting against those claims by delaying a decision on the sportsbetting bill for as long as possible.

Sober second thoughts are important, but in this case political games will continue to prevent Canadians from betting on single matches – costing casinos and the economy millions of extra revenue.



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