People make bets in the sports book at the South Point hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Nevada. (John Locher/AP)

People make bets in the sports book at the South Point hotel and casino in Las Vegas. Nevada. (John Locher/AP)

Canada’s proposed sports betting law could generate taxes, protect consumers: experts

A private member’s bill passed by the House of Commons on Thursday would legalize putting money on a single sports game

Canadians should soon be able to place a wager on the outcome of an NHL game thanks to what experts say is an overdue change to the country’s laws on sports betting.

A private member’s bill passed by the House of Commons on Thursday would legalize putting money on a single sports game. Currently, people skirt the law by using offshore betting services to place wagers.

Modernizing the legislation is “long overdue,” said Tom Mayenknecht, a Vancouver-based sports marketing expert.

“It’s impossible in this era to police people betting offshore,” he said. “So this way, it keeps more of the money in Canada, both in terms of where it’s being spent and then secondly, the investment of a share of the proceeds back in the community.”

Canada’s current sports betting legislation is “ancient,” and loosening the rules would be similar to changes the federal government made around cannabis in 2019, said Michael Naraine, an assistant professor of sports management at Brock University.

“Obviously for a very long time, everyone was like `cannabis is bad.’ But people were users of cannabis. It wasn’t that it was just magically removed from the country. People were smoking and using cannabis,” he said.

The federal government changed the laws around cannabis not only to generate tax revenue, but to educate the public on responsible use, too, Naraine said.

“Rather than punishing the consumer who’s already doing it, embrace the activity but do so in a way that you can provide them choice but also, more importantly, education.”

How, exactly, new-look sports betting would work in Canada remains to be seen. If passed by the Senate, Bill C-218 would give the provinces and territories full jurisdiction over single-event betting.

Each province and territory would likely do things slightly differently, said Paul Burns, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association.

Some may run their own betting services while others will dole out licenses to sportsbook companies like FanDuel or DraftKings. A province could also opt for a hybrid model.

“This allows the regulated industry in Canada to catch up and play on a level playing field,” Burns said.

Currently, Canadians can only place parlay bets that cover multiple games. But that isn’t appealing to many want-to-be bettors, who can turn to about 2,000 offshore websites, many of which are not well regulated, said Burns.

“We get calls to our offices from people who have trouble getting their money out of sites,” he said.

Each year, Canadians are betting about $4 billion through offshore sports books and another $10 billion through operations in Canada run by organized crime, Burns added.

The idea behind parlay betting was that it would help prevent corruption and collusion in professional sports, said Naraine.

“Now sports integrity is a lot more enshrined. We have a lot more confidence in sports integrity,” he said. “We’ve got the numbers, we’ve got the data, we’ve got cameras everywhere. It’s so difficult to be corrupt in sport now.”

The NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and CFL all signed on to a joint letter last June supporting the changes to legislation.

Mayenknecht said the leagues recognized that single-event sports betting could be a “massive” new source of revenue.

The biggest chunk of cash will come from commissions or licensing fees on the actual wagers, Mayenknecht said, but the leagues will also be looking at future opportunities.

He sees a day in the not-so-distant future when fans will be able to walk up to a window outside an arena or a kiosk on the concourse to place a bet on the outcome of a game. He noted that the Phoenix Suns announced earlier this year that they’re working with FanDuel to create a “betting lounge” in their home arena.

Leagues also know the new legislation will open opportunities for new sponsorships, Naraine said. After exhausting the traditional avenues like official coffee and official vehicle, teams are looking to branch out into new areas like computer technology and ride sharing, he said.

“These are categories that didn’t exist 10 years ago. And one of those categories is also a sports gaming operator,” he said.

One industry knows the impact of Bill C-218 won’t be entirely positive. The new legislation will hurt the horse racing industry, said Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment.

“There’s no question in my mind, even now, that sports betting is going to cannibalize our mutual wagering dollar in Canada,” he said. “As you let people wager on sports, (the horse racing industry) is going to lose a lot of those customers to sports betting. There’s only so many sports betting dollars available.”

Woodbine pushed for an amendment that prohibits fixed odds wagering on horse racing, and Lawson said the ensuing change will help limit the impact to his industry.

“I think (the legislation) is a good thing for the country,” he said. “It’s going to generate revenue and largely, but not completely, replace a grey market that does exist.”

Lawson said Woodbine has already been approached by companies looking to create partnerships as Canada’s sports betting landscape shifts. They like that Woodbine already has infrastructure in place, he said, from anti-money laundering systems to responsible gaming programs to a mobile app.

The legal changes are unlikely to completely shutter offshore betting websites, Lawson said.

“What it will do is it will bring most of the major players into Canada, operating legally, regulated and paying taxes,” he said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
B.C. forestry watchdog finds lack of compliance in Nahmint logging

Forest Practices Board says old growth and biodiversity near Port Alberni are at risk

Port Alberni Fire Dept. deputy chief Wes Patterson, right, and another firefighter monitor the front of a garage at Second Avenue and Argyle Street that burned on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Fire starts in empty garage on Argyle Street in Port Alberni

Garage was attached to empty multi-storey commercial building

A painting by Port Alberni artist Robert Hall. Hall uses a technique called Abstract Impressionism. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artist showcases abstract impressionism

Robert Hall’s paintings on display at Rollin Art Centre until May 29

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday, May 13

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Pixabay
Island Health: two doctors, new clinic space to avert Port McNeill health crisis

Island Health has leased space to use as an immediate clinic location to avert health crisis

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read