An Update on Bill C-290 (Sports Betting)
SINGLE-EVENT SPORTS BETTING – ONE STEP CLOSER IN CANADA
Bill C-290, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Sports-Betting), a private member`s bill (PMB) introduced by Windsor’s own Joe Comartin, MP (Windsor-Tecumseh), recently passed 3rd reading unanimously in the House of Commons. It is set to commence debate in the Senate and is expected to become law sometime this summer. It should be noted that all parties in the House supported Bill C-290, an increasingly rare feat nowadays.
By way of background, the Canadian Criminal Code codifies criminal offences and procedure under the sole jurisdiction of the federal Parliament. Bill C-290 deletes section 207 (4) (b) of the Criminal Code which defines “lottery schemes” and explicitly prohibits provinces from allowing wagering on “any race or fight, or on a single sports event or athletic contest. This will allow for wagering on the outcome of a single sporting event, which is currently illegal in Canada.
Since 1985, provinces have had the sole responsibility for operating, licensing and regulating all legal forms of gaming, including lottery schemes. Through their provincial gaming corporations, provinces have long offered “parlay” based wagering on sporting events. Parlay wagering, as currently offered in Canada, involves predicting the outcome of two or more sporting events. Customers choose the outcome of two or more sporting events (on which predetermined odds are published in advance of the event by the provincial gaming corporation) and the amount that they are willing to wager. In order for the customer to be successful, the outcome of all of the events must be predicted correctly.
Each province determines the types, amount and location of gaming activity that is available in their jurisdiction. Gaming facilities have been established in most provinces offering a diverse range of options including slot and video machines, card games, and games of chance such as roulette and craps (Note: Newfoundland and Yukon do not offer casino gaming facilities). If single-event sports wagering was permitted, each province would therefore determine if, and how, it would be implemented.
Below are facts that lend more insight into the gaming industry:
• The gaming industry supports more than 135 000 jobs in Canada
• Generate $9 billion in revenue for government and community programs and services
• Would make up to 100 million US residents within a 6 hour drive to a Canadian gaming operation a unique product (currently only available in Las Vegas)
• No other states have legal, single-event gaming operations
• Illegal gambling in Canada is in the range between $10.0 billion and $40.0 billion (Source: US National Gambling Impact Study)
• My bill would allow the provinces to police this unregulated market, and in so doing, reduce the influence of organized crime
What does it do for Windsor?
If provinces were able to provide a legal, regulated, sports wagering product the economic impact would be significant, particularly for communities with casinos. A recent report by the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) on the impact of sports wagering on Ontario border casinos highlighted the benefits of offering a legal regulated sports wagering product in Ontario at Windsor and Niagara Falls.
It concluded the potential benefits created by additional visits from US patrons would include the creation of up to 250 new jobs directly, as well as generating significant spin-off economic benefits to the broader community. Moreover, the study predicts the introduction of single-event wagering would generate about $70 million in Windsor and $35 million in Niagara Falls alone. Ancillary revenues, including other gaming options and non-gaming food and beverage sales, are estimated to add another $31 million in Windsor and $17 million in Niagara Falls.