Canada Attempts to Legalize Single-Game Sports Betting with Bill C-218 - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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Canada Attempts to Legalize Single-Game Sports Betting with Bill C-218

Canada Attempts to Legalize Single-Game Sports Betting with Bill C-218

On February 17, 2021, Bill C-218 passed its second reading in the House of Commons, bringing Canada one step closer to legalizing single-game sports betting.1 The enactment would repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code to “make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the province that involves betting on a race or fight or on a single sports event or athletic contest.”2 Currently, the Criminal Code leaves it to the provincial governments to provide sports betting.3 However, they cannot offer single-game sports bets.4 Canadians are only permitted to make parlay bets through provincial lotteries.5 Parlay sports bets, with their low winning percentages, are high risk and high reward.6 They are wagers that involve two or more bets combined into one bet.7 In other words, a person can place a bet on the outcome of a combination of multiple sporting events. If any bet in the parlay loses, the entire parlay loses. However, if all wages win then the bettor gets a bigger payout.

On November 3, 2020, the Canadian Gaming Associate (“CGA”) issued a statement supporting C-218 and urging quick action on legislation for sports betting.8 According to the CGA, Canadians wager about $10 billion annually through illegal gambling.9 These illegal bookmaking operations are often run by criminal organizations.10 In addition, more than $4 billon are wagered through offshore online sports betting sites.11 With the current prohibition on single-game sports betting, only $500 million are wagered through legal provincial sports lottery outlets.12 With Canadians turning to illegal and dangerous betting channels, legalizing single-game sports betting will protect fans, athletes, and the integrity of the game.13

Since the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) in 2018, the American sports gaming sector has grown by $430 million.14 In 2019, the United States collected over $10 billion in tax from gambling, $1 billion more since PASPA was abolished.15 If Bill C-218 is approved, Canada will have the opportunity to reap the rewards of legalized single-game sports betting. Not only will it allow provinces to provide safe and legal betting options to Canadians, reducing criminal activity, but it will also stimulate Canada’s economy, create new jobs, and create tax revenue to improve cities.16

With Bill C-218 passing its second reading, it will proceed to hearing before the Justice Committee.17 The Justice Committee will review the bill and produce a report will any suggested amendments.18 Once that review is complete, the bill, along with its suggested amendments, will be sent back to the House of Commons.19 The House of Commons will vote to send the bill forward to the Senate for approval.20 MP Kevin Waugh, who introduced Bill C-218, hopes to get the bill passed into law in July 2021.21.

  1., Bill C-218, [].

  2. C-218, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), 43rd Parl., 1st Sess. (2020).

  3. Michael D. Lipton, Q.C. and Kevin J. Webet, Modernizing the Canadian Criminal Code to Allow for Single Game Sports Betting, Dickson Wright (Sept. 2018), [].

  4. Id.

  5. Id.

  6. Roy Larking, Gambling 101: What is a Parlay Bet?, Sports Illustrated (Apr. 6, 2020), [].

  7. What is a Parlay Bet?, The Lines, [].

  8. Canadian Gaming Association Urges Quick Action on Legislation for Sports Betting, Canadian Gaming Association (Nov. 3, 2020), [].

  9. Id.

  10. Id.

  11. Id.

  12. Id.

  13. Canadian Gaming Association Welcomes the Introduction of the “Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act”, Canadian Gaming Association (Feb. 25, 2020), [].

  14. Bill C-218: In What Ways Will the Act Influence the Gambling Market in Canada?, The Daily Iowan (Dec. 16, 2019), [].

  15. Id.

  16. Supra note 13.

  17. Michael Britton, Bill C-218 Passed By House of Commons, Setting Up Canada for a Big Score, Cassels (Feb. 18, 2021), [].

  18. Id.

  19. Id.

  20. Id.

  21. Charlie Pinkerton, Single-event sports betting clear another hurdle to legalization, iPolitics (Feb. 17, 2021), [].

Annika Kapur

Annika Kapur is a second-year J.D. candidate at Fordham University School of Law and a staff member of the Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. She is also a member of the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy team. She holds a B.F.A in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch School of Arts.