Where Canada Is With (More) Legalized Sports Betting

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by , 9 June 2021 at 12:32 am (96 Views)
As the United States enters a “boom” period with legalized sports gambling, its neighbor country up north wants in on the fun. Of course, we’re talking about Canada aka “The Great White North”, which is setting the wheels in motion for expanded sports betting laws.

Technically, it’s already legal in Canada — however, under very strict circumstances. Certain provinces allow parlay betting, however, single-event wagering is barred at the federal level throughout the country. It’s these handcuff rules that’ve allowed the offshore betting market, including bookmakers like Betnow, to absolutely spike in popularity over the years.

But things are a changin’ in Canada, which we’re covering in this article. Here’s what could be on the horizon:

Bill C-218 Holds All The Cards

Canadian lawmakers have pushed bill C-218 up the chain of command. If passed, the bill would effectively strike down the ban on single-event betting. However, this is only at the federal level. From there, provinces would still have to legalize single-event wagering separately — similar to what PAPSA did for the United States when enacted in 2018.

Bill C-218 cleared the House of Common back in April. Now the bill goes to Canadian Parliament for approval. Their decision is expected to happen by the end of June.

For what it's worth, several different sponsors of the bill put C-218 chances of being passed around the 50-50 mark. That’s exactly what Kevin Waugh put it at, while Brent Cotter gave it a “better than 50-50 chance.”

Off the heels of the pandemic, where federal- and provincial-level budgets are already being stretched, it seems like legalized sports betting has caught “lightning in a bottle” within the country. It’s never had more momentum toward passing than today. Financially, it certainly makes sense.

Per the Canadian Gaming Association, $14 billion dollars (CAD) is bet within Canadian borders illegally at offshore sites and neighborhood bookies. That’s about 28X more than is wagered legally through provincial lotteries (about $500 million). You think lawmakers don’t want a piece of that pie for their own provinces? Of course, they do!

Also helping C-218’s cause is tribal support. We’ve seen tribal casinos serve as roadblocks for a number of US states in passing legalized sports betting. Not in Canada, though. Many leaders within the tribal gaming community have already publicly-backed the bill.

If all things go right, one lawmaker even estimates single-game sports betting could arrive in Canada as early as Fall 2021. That was the guess of Senator Elizabeth Marshall, who earmarked Labor Day as a potential launching point. That’s only three months away so expect a flurry of news around C-218 in the coming weeks.

Operators Prepare To Cash In

Of course, many sportsbook operators are on the outside looking in at what Canada does with bill C-218. But judging by recent business moves, it seems like they’re confident the bill will be pushed through sooner rather than later.

Most recently, digital-based bookie PointsBet hired Nic Sulsky as its chief commercial officer for Canadian operations. Sulsky, a Toronto native, was previously at Monkey Knife Fight, the daily fantasy sports player.

Per PointsBet execs, the buck won’t stop at Sulsky. More staff will be hired to join the Canadian operation’s side. “We hope this will be the first of many Canadian hires,” said CEO Johnny Aitken in the press release announcement.

Along the same lines, DraftKings has begun entering the potentially-lucrative Canadian market. The operator expanded its existing deal with the NFL for daily fantasy sports to now include Canada. Offering NFL-approved DFS to Canadian bettors would be a natural way to upsell them on sports betting, if and when it’s legalized.

Then there’s BetMGM, currently the No. 3 player in sports betting market share stateside. They also just announced a sponsorship deal with The Hockey News publication. Obviously, no sport would benefit more from single-game betting than ice hockey.

Given the early success of bill C-218 among lawmakers and the money being funneled into hires and partnerships by big-name operators, Canada sports betting could be revolutionized sometime in 2021. Like we said before, the momentum has never been stronger. It just feels like a matter of time at this point.