Proposed bill would let Canadians bet on single sports matches
Published Wednesday, November 21, 2012 11:02PM EST
Canadians may soon be able to bet on single sports games, if a new private members bill is approved in the Senate.
Betting on major sports games is big business. Canadians wager an estimated $10 billion a year on professional sports matches.
Currently, it’s only legal to bet on multiple matches at once, and only through Internet sites and bookies. But now there’s pressure to allow bets on single matches, after NDP MP Joe Comartin sponsored a private members bill pushing for changes to the existing gambling laws.
Betting on single matches is already legal in Europe and Las Vegas, and supporters of the bill say it could boost local businesses. One study estimates the additional revenues gained from the increased wagers could reach $40 million a year.
“There’s nothing better than bringing some of that money back into the Canadian economy, by offering a legal, regulated, transparent environment in which to do that,” said Paul Burns of the Canadian Gaming Association.
The bill sailed through the House of Commons with Justice Minister Rob Nicholson’s support. Its fate now lies with the Senate.
Sen. Bob Runciman said the bill will have other benefits, beyond additional revenues.
“I think the benefit is taking it out of the hands of organized crime. They use these funds to fund their other operations,” he said.
But not everyone supports the bill. Members of the professional sports community oppose the legislation and say that wagering on single matches will make it easier to fix games.
“Such wagering poses perhaps the greatest threat to the integrity of our games,” said the NHL.
“We do not want any government to teach children to gamble on their heroes,” said Paul Beeston, president of the Toronto Blue Jays and former Major League Baseball president.
Senator and former Montreal Canadiens coach Jaques Demers said that gambling has no place in hockey.
“I spent 30 years in hockey with a straight line on betting: it was simply a no-no,” he said.
The final vote on the bill is expected before Christmas.
With a report from CTV’s Parliamentary Correspondent Roger Smith