Canadian Gaming Association asks NHL to help push for legal sports betting

Association hoping to follow the lead of the US and legalise widespread single-game sports betting

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) has called for sporting associations in Canada to support its efforts to get single event sports betting legalised in Canada.

The comments come after the National Hockey League (NHL) announced its first sports betting partnership with MGM Resorts International earlier this week.

Paul Burns, President & CEO of the CGA called the partnership an excellent example of the type of relationship the Canadian gaming industry is looking for with professional sports leagues.

At present, taking bets on any single sports event is illegal, even if offered by one of the government monopoly gaming service providers such as the British Columbia Lottery Corporation.

Canadian punters are currently limited to multiples betting (i.e. bets on more than one event at a time) which is offered by the provincial government gaming operators.

Ice hockey is the number one sport in Canada, with many Canadians betting, both legally on government-operated sites and illegally on American games.
Burns said: “We know that Canadians enjoy single-event sports betting because they are wagering approximately $14 billion annually through illegal channels.  We invite the NHL to work with our gaming industry to bring about the changes required to realize the full economic potential of single-event sports wagering in Canada – and give Canadian fans the same experience as their US counterparts.”

The CGA has attempted to get private members bills to legalise betting on single events through Canada’s Parliament and Senate on two prior occasions, first in 2011 with bill BC-290, which advanced to third reading in the Senate before being dismissed.  A second private members bill C-221, known as the safe and regulated Sports Betting Act, did not even make it to the Senate as it was defeated in Parliament by a vote 156–133 in 2016.

Danielle Bush, partner at Miller Thomson LLP and board member at the CGA, said the leagues had played a key role in stropping the advance of betting legislation.

“For this reason, it may be highly persuasive to have the league’s appear again in front of both Parliament and the Senate to argue this time in favour of the same legislation,” Bush said.

Bush added: “Having the leagues on board may well enable the legislation to move forward unimpeded, and given the US situation, there will never be a better time to do so.”

Canada | Regulation