Single-game wagering rejected in Canada

Latest setback could see provincial operators constrained to doubles and above for “at least five years”


The Canadian House of Commons has rejected a bill to allow the country’s provincial lotteries to offer single-game sports betting.

Bill C-221 was voted down on Wednesday evening by 156 votes to 133, following opposition from Canada’s ruling Liberal Party.

It marks the second parliamentary session in a row that a single-game wagering bill has failed, and left industry experts pessimistic about seeing any changes in the near-term.

“There really does not seem to be the political momentum needed to get it passed,” said Joe Saumarez Smith, the managing director of consultancy Sports Gaming, which works in Canada.

“It looks like it needs a change of federal government plus a pressing political reason to change the law for it to be introduced and I would guess it is now off the agenda for at least five years, possibly longer.”

The bill was supported by Canada’s provincial lotteries which operate regulated sports betting in the country but are only allowed to offer doubles or above – known as parlays in North America – under existing regulations.

The restrictions make it hard for the lotteries to compete with international grey market operators, who command an estimated sports betting market of C$4bn (£2.33bn) a year.

The bill’s sponsor, New Democratic Party MP Brian Masse, said the bill would have contributed to provincial economies and taken money away from offshore operators and organised crime.

“By defeating this legislation the Liberal Government just endorsed an unacceptable reality in the gaming sector in Canada,” Masse said.

“They are well aware of the massive revenue stream sports wagering is providing organized crime to fund human trafficking, the illegal drug and weapons trade, money laundering and tax evasion.”

The Canadian Gaming Association tweeted: “We’ll be back….illegal wagering continues. We want to thank those MP’s who supported regulated sports betting.”

Efforts to oust offshore operators from Canada are ongoing, with British Columbia recently threatening legal action against 19 firms.