This year Canada witnessed the federal approval of Bill C-218 – ‘The Safe & Regulated Sports Act’
Gambling plays a huge part in Canada’s economy, producing around $31 billion annually when combining land-based and online gambling services. For many, it’s a fun and entertaining way to spend a couple of afternoons and evenings with friends, with the average person spending around $100 a month. This year, Canada’s province of Ontario has experienced some changes in the world of gambling by becoming the latest North American province to loosen its legislation around gambling by witnessing the federal approval of Bill C-218 – ‘The Safe & Regulated Sports Act’.
About Bill C-218 – The Safe & Regulated Sports Act
After 10 years and 2 attempts to pass through government, Bill C-218 has finally been passed in Ontario, amending Canada’s Criminal Code and legalising single-event sports betting. Up until now, bettors have only ever been allowed to legally bet on two or more games – and be required to win both events in order to receive a payout (known as a parlay). Sounds risky, doesn’t it? However, Ontario residents can now legally wager on single-sport events for the first time, thanks to the passing of The Sage and Regulated Sports Act. This is huge news for Canada’s economy as, prior to this bill being passed; a whopping $14 billion has been estimated to have been spent by Canadians on grey market or illegal black market operators – the hope this money can become taxable and regulated at reputable Canadian online casinos.
Ending the Illegal Black Market Sports Betting Monopoly
As former sports broadcaster Kevin Waugh said in a recent statement, black-market bookmakers and offshore (grey market) websites “have had the monopoly on single-event betting” for far too long. He is keen to ensure that the provincial government acts as quickly as possible to get the necessary regulations and licences in place so that all Canadians can begin to place their wagers – this time, legally. Many believe that this bill is a huge win for not only sports fans, but also for Canadian taxpayers and employed workers, as it’s expected to pump $14 million back into the economy.
Ontario has been actively preparing for the expansion of land-based and online sports betting, thanks to the The Safe & Regulated Sports Act, and has been planning for the regulated industry by involving it’s existing lottery corporations and attracting major sportsbooks that operate in the US, such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and PointsBet to join forces now that single-sports betting is legal. Sites like olg.ca have also been preparing for the influx of online gambling now that single-sports wagering will be legal.
John Levy, founder and CEO of bookmaker, The Score, said in a statement that, “We have been actively preparing for the expansion of online sports betting and iGaming in our home province of Ontario, which is expected to commence later this year. The passing of this legislation is momentous, and we are confident that Canada will embrace legal sports betting and become a leader in this rapidly developing and cutting-edge industry.”
There are, of course, some concerns over this new bill’s passing.
There are some who have concerns over what the passing on this bill will mean for the mental health of those living in Ontario. Some senators have expressed concerns that there may be an increase in gambling addiction across the province, and also the potential for match-fixing. Match-fixing concerns apply mainly to the lower-tier leagues where athletes aren’t as highly paid, and are therefore more susceptible to taking money in exchange for a match result that’ll benefit bettors.
That being said, CFL commissioner Rand Ambrosie told a Senate committee earlier this week that legal sports betting would be a huge economic boost for sporting leagues that are so desperately seeking revenue after missing out on the last 18 months of play offs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Should Other Provinces Become an Open Market too and Allow Single-Sports Betting?
Ontario has been preparing for this moment for so long, and, on the whole, people seem genuinely excited and relieved that the bill for single-sports betting has finally been passed. It should prove to be a great economic boost for the province and provide additional revenue to sporting teams, as well as cracking down on illegal betting.
Is it time for other provinces/states to do the same? It’s expected that many will follow suit, Burns mentions that “Some provinces will move extremely quickly…they’re in a good place to get going.” Many major organisations have supported this movement, and I expect that other provinces will soon follow in the footsteps of Ontario.
Ultimately, this bill is about allowing Canadians to interact with their favourite sporting leagues in a way they’ve never previously been able to. In a post COVID-19 sporting scene, there’s a lot of making up to do for lost time and bettors are eager to start wagering and supporting their favourite athletes in a whole new way.
The Rising Popularity of Online Casinos
Whether or not gambling gets easier in Canada, one thing for certain is that online gaming is not going anywhere soon. They have proved extremely popular for a number of years and the fact that so many of us have to stay home for large chunks of the past year has certainly helped.
With some movements restricted people are really keen to look for online entertainment options, of which casinos and sports betting tick a lot of the boxes. As such, it really is no surprise that so many people have started an online gambling account and have continued to make use of online casinos.
Of course, the Canadian gambling industry has certainly caught onto this and there have been massive improvements in what online gambling now offers. With faster withdrawals, bigger jackpots and more games than ever it is no wonder that many people are opting to stay at home and place their bets rather than take a trip out to a land-based casino. Whether this will change over the next few years remains to be seen, but for the moment at least online casinos are seemingly here to stay.
SiGMA Roadshow Riga
The next SiGMA iGathering networking event will be held in Riga. The dinner, which is planned for the 26th of August, at 19:00, is set to take place at the stunning Royal Casino. The evening will also welcome guests from neighbouring countries Estonia and Lithuania, tapping into a wide network of the region’s top industry thinkers.