Industry Reports

Could Canada Keep Up with the Times and the US by Regulating Sports Wagering?

Single-event sports betting has been among the heated topics of discussion and its regulation is a possibility eyed by many people directly involved in the field. The US sports wagering sector has seen quite the development in the past nearly a year, which is prompting the conversation in Canada as well. Ontario Premier Doug Ford also claimed his support of sports betting regulation as a promising move.

The very idea of sports betting excites people interested in wagering and professional sports leagues, which explains its popularity across states south of Ontario that have already regulated it. Now, nearly a year after the US Supreme Court overruled PASPA and allowed states to make the decision themselves, Canada might be planning a move in this direction as well. The existing Criminal Code prevents players from single-event sports betting and an amendment would have to be introduced, as to make this activity legal.

Sports Wagering Could Prevent Players from Spending Abroad

The only possibility for similar gaming includes two-team parlays offered by local lotteries that aim to attract the interest of players and eliminate the need for single-event wagering. This does not stop people from enjoying the online possibilities that abound and betting on foreign sports wagering platform on their phones.

As a result of this, the government sees millions of Canadian dollars sailing away to operator overseas. Estimations show that players across all provinces manage to pour some CA$110 million over the span of a single year of online single-event sports betting. Such an amount could be better spent on various large projects and beautification works across the provinces. Casino venues located in the vicinity of the US border are already seeing the flow of Canadian players making their way south.

Windsor and Niagara are some of the locations that feature premium gambling offerings to the likes of Caesars Windsor, Casino Niagara, and Fallsview Casino Resort. They lack sports wagering and fail to stop players going to the United States to bet in a regulated and protected manner. Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli recently made a point that said casino near the border witness the flow of millions of Canadian dollars south without the resources to stop them.

Windsor and Niagara Already Feel the Impact

Windsor residents appear to support regulation, as it would result in increased funding to the city coffers. Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin also pointed out that Caesars Windsor is projected to see better performance if sports wagering is decriminalized. Minister Fedeli sent a special letter addressing his concerns and the problematic situation to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, urging him to take action and introduce the amendment.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also expressed his support by tweeting about professional sports leagues to the likes of the NHL, NBA, CFL, and MLS that support single-event sports wagering legalization across Canada. He is willing to see changes to the gaming that would modernize it and maintain it competitive on a larger scale. Illegal sports wagering offering no protection for players or problem gambling support is not or pouring money in offshore sportsbooks does not align with promises of meeting Canadian’s expectations.

For the time being, only NLF opposes the decision. The amendment would be possible with the removal of Section 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada. In a sense, it equates to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 that used to make wagering on sports events illegal outside of Nevada. The removal of the aforementioned section would essentially decriminalize placing bets on single events and give a green light to all provinces to come up with their own set of rules overseeing the sector.