Debate on sports gambling bill cancelled again

Sports Book. © Can Stock Photo / sbotas

A bill that would have legalized single-game sports betting in Canada has stalled once again in the House of Commons.

Bill C-13, which would amend the Criminal Code of Canada to allow single-wager sports betting, was introduced in fall 2020, but remains idle on the floor of the House.

The Liberal government voted in December against fast-tracking the bill. Now, Windsor West MP Brian Masse, a proponent of single-game betting, has questioned the government’s commitment to bringing the pastime to Canada.

“This government continues telling Canadians that they are committed to passing this legislation, yet they cancel, for the second time, the necessary debate in order for it to move forward through the House of Commons,” said Masse in a media release. “We have already missed the boat on getting out in front of our US counterparts and now with an election on the horizon here, it doesn’t look like they really want this passed at all. Another empty promise.”

A similar bill, C-218, is set for debate on second reading on February 24, and it has support from members of the Bloc Quebecois, the Conservatives, and the NDP. With a minority government, C-218 would pass even without Liberal support. However, Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk, a Liberal, has promised to support some form of sports betting legislation.

Masse said that time is of the essence, since if the government falls and an election is called, C-13 will have to be reintroduced.

“Passing this legislation will take money from the black market and organized crime and allow the proceeds to flow back into the government coffers for social programs like health care and education,” said Masse. “If we can do this immediately, and get it to the provinces and territories, it might help post-COVID with the economic recovery by creating jobs and bringing in new business.”