Legal Sports Betting is Coming to Canada as Parliament passes Bill C-218

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On 22nd June 2021, the upper chamber approved Bill C-218 with 57 – 20 and 5 abstentions.

Soon, Canadians will be able to legally wager on their favourite games like soccer or hockey in a similar style to Las Vegas betting. 

The reason why Canada needs legal sports betting

The Senate has decided to approve a bill that will decriminalize all types of single-sports games. Until now, the only sport you could wager on was horse racing, which is arguably more complex than other sports out there.

According to official sources, the Senate voted for Bill C-218 to win back the customers using off-shore platforms, U.S. casinos, and even bet at illegal gambling parlours.

Since there’s no way of eradicating sports betting, Canadians have no choice but to regulate the market and keep the money from gambling in the country. This is the first time that this kind of law made it this far through Parliament.

With Bill C-218, Kevin Waugh, the Conservative MP, has gathered the attention and enthusiasm of all four main political parties. 

His strategy worked out better than the previous attempts when similar laws with all-party support burst through the House of Commons, but everything fell apart when the law reached the Senate and died off after they called an election in 2015.

Still, the government didn’t give up on the idea of legalizing sports betting in Canada. 

In 2016, the new Democrat MP Brian Masse failed to introduce a bill once again, thanks to the Liberal majority who voted against his private bill in concordance with the Conservative party’s decision.

Why bill C-218 passed the Parliament so quickly

Everything changed in November 2020, when the Liberals decided to “roll the dice” once again with new legislation. They agreed to release it after Waugh agreed to include protection for the horse racing industry in the bill.

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In February 2021, the bill passed the House of Commons and received multi-party support. The National Hockey League and other professional sports leagues embraced the new legislation. 

Interestingly enough, even the equestrian community (known for being suspicious of casinos and foreign platforms) agreed upon the new bill. That is probably a way to protect their business from the online casino sites quickly taking over traditional betting venues.

Senator David Wells, the main sponsor of bill C-218 in the upper house, expects that the introduction of legal betting on single sports will hit the billion-dollar black market. This way, the gambling revenue will be redirected back into the Canadian government’s treasury.

That’s excellent news, considering that people always find a way to place wagers on sports. So why would the Canadian state miss out on billions of dollars that would otherwise end up in the pockets of some shady off-shore corporation?

During last week’s debate, Wells told the Senate that: “Canadians are placing billions of dollars worth of bets through these sites that are completely unregulated in Canada.”

He also added that the provincial governments (responsible for regulating gambling) have insisted that betting becomes legalized. By passing Bill C-218, they can generate billions of dollars annually, which could be invested in addiction research, education or even health care.

The last step for officially implementing the new betting legislation is to receive royal assent. Still, the amendments to the Criminal Code will be enforced later, based on the Governor’s decision in Council. The exact date hasn’t been announced yet.

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Plans for the future

Once the prohibition in Section 207(4)(b) in the Criminal Code is removed and single-event sports betting regulations come into force, provinces and territories will have the right to regulate the betting market within that area as they wish.

While not all provinces have announced how they plan on implementing the new legislation, here is what we know so far:

  • Ontario announced that sports betting would be a key component in their iGaming model. They also plan on allowing private operators to provide a wide range of gambling products. It is the first province that tries a modern approach and implements digital casino platforms in Canada.
  • Alberta and British Columbia are planning to implement single-event sports betting straight after Bill C-218 is enforced. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation will offer betting services via their playnow.com (the only legal online site in the province). For now, they’re working on implementing sports betting in the existing land-based casinos. Similarly, the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) will introduce betting on their playalbeta.com gaming site.
  • The Atlantic provinces are expected to introduce sports wagering a few weeks after the regulations take effect. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Labrador) announced that the new betting services would be added to the existing ALC gaming site after each regulatory body approves it.

How gambling will look after the passing of Bill C-218

Right now, the Canadian gambling market is in the grey legal area. That means that you can gamble, but under certain conditions or by playing on a foreign platform that holds a gambling license.

Moreover, sports betting is completely forbidden in the country (except for off-shore websites). That is why bill C-218 is a fresh breath of air for the local operators that are quickly losing ground to the foreign gambling platforms that can offer their services to anyone.

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Once the new legislation passes, you will be able to simply visit a gaming platform aggregator like casinobonusca and join a legal betting or casino site operated in Canada. This way, you will no longer have to risk entering a shady website operated outside of the country.

On top of that, you will indirectly sustain the local economy and help the government keep gambling fun and non-addictive. Finally, Canada will leave the grey area with gambling, and they will quickly take over the off-shore sites that currently dominate the market thanks to legal loopholes.

Final thoughts

That’s everything we know about the new bill C-218 so far.

Only time will tell if this new betting legislation is an effective way to legalize single-sports wagering. But, as you already know, some provinces are already planning the expansion of their current gambling offerings to include the new regulations.

However, the government has not included anything about sports teams offering betting services. That means that it’s up to the local government to decide whether they allow sports fans to bet directly on their favourite teams.

Tribal casinos and local racetracks are not mentioned in bill C-218, meaning that each territory will get to decide what to do with these gambling venues.

We all hope that this new legislation will reshape the Canadian gambling environment and help the government redirect the revenue back into the country instead of letting it go into the pockets off-shore corporations.

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