News broke at the beginning of December that making single-game sports gambling legal in Canada was basically a done deal. This was an exciting development for a country where its sports betting fans were forced to make parlay bets or place bets on sports through unregulated alternatives. Single-game sports betting has been banned in Canada for a long time, but it seems that this is all about to change.
A Look at Canada’s Single-Game Betting Ban
In the United States, the law is split between state and federal jurisdiction. When it comes to gambling regulations, jurisdiction has mostly been down to the individual states, with some exceptions such as the PASPA and Wire Act. On the other hand, in countries such as Canada and Ireland, the federal government lies down the laws for the whole country. Provinces do have the power the regulate small offences, which are called provincial offences. Although we know this is not the best analogy out there, you can think of it as follows – the federal government has the power to regulate felonies and the provinces have the power to regulate misdemeanors.
Section 202 of Canada’s criminal code is the act that currently prohibits gambling businesses and bans single-game betting. Section 204 was the created to make the parlay-style betting system legal and it quickly became popular among Canadians.
It Is About Time Things Changed
You will probably be quite shocked to find out that the last big changes to the gaming laws in Canada came about in 1985. Allowing single-game betting is something that has been talked about a lot in recent years, but it has always been turned down. In 2012, a lot of the major sport leagues in the United States as well as the NCAA sent letters to the Canadian parliament declaring why they were totally against single-game betting. These letters basically annihilated bill C-290, which had been pretty close to being passed without a lot of opposition.
The effort in 2012 to legalize single-game betting was just the first of many private member bills, despite the fact that they do not have much chance of being passed, although single-game betting legalization is something that has had a lot more support than most other private member bills. Even the recent effort, which seems to have been finally accepted, was a private members bill until David Lametti, the country’s Federal Justice Minister, introduced some legislation that seemed to align most major parties as being in favor of finally legalizing single-game betting.
Will Legalizing Single-Game Betting be a Game Changer?
It is hoped that single-game betting is something that will give a boost to the Canadian economy. An economic boost for the casino sector in Windsor has been the benchmark for the politicians of that region to support expansion initiatives. The issue became even more pressing when Detroit, the American city situated opposite Windsor decided to legalize sports betting.
Obviously, whether single-game betting will be a success or not depends on the market, which is something that we have seen with the legalization of sports betting across the United States. Some states have had a lot of success, while others have not had as much success due to a number of obstacles that limit revenue to the state.
What You Can Expect Regarding Sports Betting in Canada
One area where single-game betting within Canada might seem different than most of the US is that Canadian provinces operate monopolies on their gambling operations. The gaming authorities and provincial lottery control parlay betting offerings around Canada and also control online poker and casinos.
The provincial government of Ontario developed a budget that would give private entities the chance to enter new iGaming space with sports betting included under the umbrella, but this is something that has not happened yet. This move would mean that iGaming will fall under the same jurisdiction for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, which is responsible for overseeing different industries that include horse racing and legal cannabis stores.
Not Canada’s First iGaming Rodeo
The idea of building an iGaming market is something that appeared in the budget in 2019. This process is likely to be a long one, with stakeholders from both sides probably wanting to engage in heated debates. In particular, Ontario has previous history with attempts to privatize government monopolies, which includes privatizing the 407 toll-highway for just $3.1 billion in 1999, which was later valued at $30 billion in 2019 and subsequently named as one of the poorest deals ever made.
While establishing an iGaming market would be creating a new market, not privatizing one that already exists, it is not clear how things will play out and whether it would garner a different reaction.
Attempts to privatize provincially controlled operations in Ontario such as the LCBO have popped up over time – in fact, both conservative and liberal governments have put forward the idea at certain times. Ontario has a challenge ahead of it as it was recently projected that they would have a $38 billion deficit in 2020 and another $33 billion deficit in 2021. Historically, different leadership regimes have taken a look at attempting to privatize government monopolies such as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission or the LCBO to try and improve budgets. However, this is a different plan to traditional modes of privatization. Time is the only thing that will be able to tell us if the Ford government can follow through with this, and if they can then it could lead to an American style of online gambling that includes sports betting.
Change is Coming for Canadian Sports Betting
After spending many years trying to make single-game betting legal in Canada, it seems that they are finally going to get it done. An effort that started off as an attempt to gain a competitive edge and offer different products in border cities than are available in the United States has led to the need to stay competitive with the products on offer south of the border. While single-game betting is something that seems to be just around the corner for Canadians, as it also now has the backing of major sport leagues, there are still some questions that remain such as what will it actually look like when it finally arrives?