Senate passes Bill C-218, legalization of single-game sports betting in Canada imminent

Photo courtesy: Senate of Canada

The Senate has passed Bill C-218, making the legalization of single-game sports betting in Canada imminent.

The legislation was sponsored by Saskatoon-Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh, a self-identified fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It received 57 votes for, 20 votes against, and five abstentions in Tuesday’s Senate session.

“Just moments ago, the safe and regulated sports betting act passed third reading in the Senate. Now, the only step left is for it to receive Royal Assent from the Administrator of Canada. The prohibition on single-event sports betting in Canada is just about over,” Waugh wrote on Twitter

“Bill C218 has officially passed in the Senate and will become law in the coming days. I’m honoured to have worked to make single-event sports betting legal in Canada,” Senator David Wells wrote on Twitter.

The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act must receive Royal Assent from the Administrator of Canada to become law, which is considered a formality.

Following Royal Assent, provinces will have the authority to deliver a safe, legal, and controlled sports betting option to Canadians. The Canadian Gaming Association has been working with industry experts and provincial gaming regulators to support the development of sport and event wagering regulation that will be adopted across Canada.

Waugh introduced Bill C-218 in 2020 as a common-sense change to end an outdated restriction on single-event sports betting, an industry worth $14 billion annually in Canada. The House of Commons passed the legislation in April, which led to its stint in the Senate.

Canada has had legal sports wagering for decades however Canadians could only place wagers through a parlay bet, which means betting on and correctly predicting the outcome of at least two or more games in order to win the bet.

Canadians enjoy sports betting because they are wagering approximately $10 billion annually through illegal bookmaking operations in Canada, usually operated by organized crime. Additionally, more than $4 billion is wagered through offshore online sports wagering sites.

Currently, only $500 million is wagered through legal provincial sports lottery products offered to Canadians, which means many people are betting through illegal and often dangerous means.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie wrote a letter to the standing committee on justice and human rights calling the legislation ‘a vital economic tool’ for the league.

Bill C-218 is worth an estimated $2 million per team and $20 million for the league overall, which could help the CFL mitigate the losses suffered amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a cancelled 2020 season.