After months of intense scrutiny and debate within Canada’s chamber of sober second thought, the sportsbetting bill, legally identified as Bill C-290, is expected to be defeated by Senators opposed to the legislation. If the bill fails to pass, it will be the first time in Canadian history that a motion passed with unanimous support in the elected House of Commons will be defeated by opponents in the unelected Senate.
The sportsbetting bill was introduced by NDP MP Brian Masse and sponsored by Conservative Senator Bob Runciman in the Senate. The two lawmakers, despite having ideological differences, recognized that Canada’s sportsbetting laws are outdated. The current legal framework forces Canadians to bet on a minimum of three different games, but many players prefer betting on only one game they are most passionate about. As a result, players bet at online casinos and sportsbetting sites operating outside Canadian jurisdiction that do provide single game bets.
Masse and Runciman argued that Canadians are betting in this manner regardless of the law, and that money is leaving the Canadian economy. The sportsbetting bill proposes amending the laws to include legalized single game bets, which the lawmakers expect will reduce the volume of Canadians betting through offshore domains. Masse introduced the bill to the House of Commons, where all parties agreed with the merits of the legislation. However, Runciman has had little success convincing his fellow Senators to endorse the bill.
Opposition from North America’s major sports leagues influenced the positions of dozens of Senators. Runciman says Senators are lining up to speak against Bill C-290 in order to delay the voting date as long as possible. The Parliamentary session is scheduled to expire in a few weeks, which will automatically defeat any outstanding legislation. As a result, Runciman admits that time is not on the side of sportsbetting reformists.
“There just isn’t enough time on the calendar.”
Masse says if the Senate does allow the bill to die on paper, he will reintroduce the motion in the House of Commons during the next Parliamentary session. The MP is determined to see the legislation pass, and will spend the next few months asking Canadians to pressure the Senate into doing what he says is best for the Canadian economy.