Leagues Support Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada

For years, Canadians have lobbied their government to legalize sports betting in its most basic form: single-event wagering. Sports fans want to be able to bet on a single game, not in parlay form as is the current restricted status in most parts of the country.

This month, new friends joined the efforts to legalize single-event sports betting. The Canadian Gaming Association announced that numerous professional sports leagues officially emerged as supporters of a federal bill.

The effort gained more momentum with that brief statement than in past years combined.

Unequivocal Support from Leagues

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) posted the statement, dated June 8, 2020, on its website. It was fairly simple and pointed.

“The National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and the Canadian Football League support an amendment to Canada’s federal laws that would authorize provinces to offer betting on single sporting events. Sports betting gives fans another exciting way to engage with the sports they love. Because a legal and regulated sports betting market in Canada would be beneficial to sports and their fans, we urge prompt action to make this a reality.

“Sports betting already happens illegally in Canada; creating a legal framework would shift consumers from illicit, unregulated markets to a legal and safe marketplace. Regulating single-game betting would allow for strong consumer protections as well as safeguards to further protect the integrity of sports.”

It appears that the Canadian Gaming Association is giving a significant effort to supporting the current bill. The CGA website notes the bill and is following it as federal MPs push it into the debate process this year.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act

The bill everyone is following is C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act. MP Kevin Waugh of Saskatoon-Grasswood introduced the bill into Parliament on February 25, 2020.

The purpose of the bill is to amend the Canadian Criminal Code (Subsection 207-4b) in order to legalize single-sports event betting. Officially, the wording of the bill is: “to make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the provide that involves betting on a race or fight or on a single sport event or athletic contest.”

When Waugh introduced the bill four months ago, he did so with support across the House. MP Brian Masse of Windsor West seconded the bill.

Support Across Canada

Waugh and Masse know that there is strong support for C-218. And this is the third time that lawmakers have put such a bill in front of the House for consideration in the last five years. Waugh said this one is “third-time lucky.”

Parlay sports betting is popular across Canada but not to the extent that single-event sports betting would be. And Canadians need only look south of the border to the United States to see how many of the states are quickly legalizing single-event sports betting. Nearly half of the 50 states have legalized it or are close to doing so.

Waugh also noted in his introduction of C-218 that offshore sports betting sites garner approximately $14 billion from Canadians each year, a sum that would go a long way to helping the Canadian economy.

Coronavirus Presents Opportunity

The pandemic that shut down most of Canada – and many other countries around the world – in March stopped most Parliament business, too. While lawmakers did operate as necessary, they did not address any non-essential legislation in the past several months.

Meanwhile, the Canadian economy suffered immense damage. It will likely take years to bring the economy back to its former position in the world, and it will need some revenue boosts to do so. A multi-billion-dollar business like sports betting could help with that situation, stimulate the economy, and move bettors into a regulated environment.

Waugh and Masse are likely ready to present this and other arguments to push their bill into and through debates in the coming months.

In fact, Waugh is one of the primary advocates of resuming Parliament in Ottawa this summer instead of waiting until the proposed September restart date. While many lawmakers have been meeting via online video sessions, those have been shorter and less substantial than normal Parliamentary sessions.

C-218 still awaits debate in Parliament and a potential vote.


Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. As the online gaming sectors have changed and grown, particularly in the United States and Canada, she has followed it all and written about it for websites like World Poker Tour and PokerScout. In her free time, she runs a small business, reads, cooks, and enjoys music.


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