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Bill C-218 Proceeds with No Amendments

The legislation that would legalize single-event wagering in Canada, or legally known as Bill C-218 has officially returned to the country’s Senate. The bill received a massive critique from the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake last week, as the First Nation claimed that the bill would harm its wellbeing and that provinces will see the biggest advantage from the legislation.

Bill C-218 was introduced by Saskatoon Conservative MP, Kevin Waugh. Its legal approval would provide Canadians with the opportunity to bet on single sporting events instead of the current parlay options or on offshore websites. The bill has already enjoyed plenty of support across the country, however, last week a few concerns were raised about its introduction.

Request Denied

Despite the recent objections from the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, Bill C-218 has been passed by the Senate of Canada’s Banking, Trade, and Commerce Committee. Now, the legislation will be heading back to the Senate for a final reading, however, the bill was not amended by the committee following the complaints from the First Nation.

As of right now, legal sports betting is only offered by provincial regulators across the country. The First Nation’s alarm is that the proposed legislation would exclude them from the gaming expansion and it would of significant harm to the tribe’s already established local online gaming industry. But the committee’s inaction has left the nation with a bitter taste.

In response to the advancement of the bill, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake released a statement saying that the tribe is repulsed with Canada’s Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee for the disregard of the nation’s request. The statement continues by saying that the committee has decided to rush the introduction of Bill C-218 and this will affect Kahnawake’s ability to control its economic future.

According to the statement, once again Indigenous communities have been disregarded and ignored, and that once more their future was decided by others. During the live feed discussions, some Senators provided the Nation with encouraging and supportive statements on its position against the legislation, instead of the requested binding language provided to the Senators.

More Opposition

Ontario Senator Vernon White has also opted against the introduction of the single-sports betting legislation. According to him, the province’s Crown corporation will be the ones who will reap the most benefits of the proposed bill. Mr. White’s other concern is that the bill would enable possibilities of match-fixing in the country, and in his words, the Criminal Code is not particularly clear on prohibiting match-fixing.

Change of Heart

Saskatchewan senator Brent Cotter who initially spoke against the legislation has decided to support the gaming expansion now. According to him, as long as most sporting institutions back the bill, that this might be the way forward. He also believes that the gaming change could be handled by the provinces and it could be provided in a safe and responsible manner.

Source: Lalonde, Marc “Bill C-218 heads to Senate without change, despite Kahnawake objections”, Toronto Star, June 16, 2021