Sports betting bill finally clears Parliament

Sports Book. © Can Stock Photo / sbotas

The third time was the charm for bringing single-game sports betting to Canada.

Bill C-218, an amendment of the Criminal Code to allow single-game betting nationwide, cleared the House of Commons with multi-partisan support in April but passed the Canadian Senate on Tuesday afternoon. It now awaits royal assent before becoming law.

This was the third time a sports-betting bill had been before representatives in Ottawa, now finally passing. The bill was introduced by Saskatchewan Conservative MP Kevin Waugh of Saskatoon-Grasswood, a former television sports reporter, but Windsor-West MP Brian Masse of the NDP had been pushing for sports betting for almost a decade now.

In a statement following the Senate vote Tuesday, Masse declared the passage a victory for border towns like Windsor, who have seen sports betting cash go to casinos in Detroit.

“This is the third legislative attempt to get a bill passed, and it finally worked,” said Masse. “The two previous times it started as just an NDP bill and we built cross-party support over time but it never got over the goal line either by being killed by the unelected Senate or not making it out of the House for partisan reasons.”

Unifor Local 444, which represents hourly workers at Caesars Windsor, had previously estimated that sports betting would create 150 jobs for the entertainment complex, which has been closed for most of the 15 months since the COVID-19 pandemic started. The sports betting industry has been a windfall for organized crime, accounting for $10-billion in illicit betting.

Masse said the legislation helps level the playing field with casinos in Michigan and New York State and praised the efforts of parliamentarians of all political stripes to make sports betting in Canada a reality.

“As demonstrated in the overwhelming vote in the House, or the Justice Committee’s unanimous vote, and [Tuesday’s] successful vote in the Senate, the enormous efforts of the past ten years have paid off,” said Masse. “This is a demonstration of what Canadians send parliamentarians from all parties to do, work together to achieve solutions for everyone. Today is what progress looks like.”

—with files from Maureen Revait