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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red dot shows location where fisherman was rescued by boater on Friday, May 7, 2021. Other fisher still missing presumed drowned after boat swamped on Fraser River near Vedder/Sumas confluence. Rescued man swam to shore after boat sank, while friend is still classified as missing as of May 10. (City of Chilliwack map)
Fisherman still missing after boat flipped on the Fraser River

One man made it out, other still missing, after anchor got snagged in the Fraser near Chilliwack

Corina Rochon has been working the front lines of the pandemic in the intensive care unit at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. She is also an instructor in the nursing program at University of the Fraser Valley.
Pandemic the most challenging of Abbotsford nurse’s 16-year career

Corina Rochon works front lines at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Joan Septembre went for a weekend hike at Lindeman Lake, parking next to a vehicle that had two windows smashed in. (submitted photo)
Thieves active at Lindeman Lake and other parking spots along Chilliwack Lake Road

The hiking community is lamenting an uptick in car theft and vandalism as the weather gets nicer

Dario Lopez comes to the Cascades from Madrid, Spain where he played in very competitive junior leagues. (Dan Kinvig/UFV Athletics)
UFV Cascades sign Spanish basketball talent

High-scoring forward Dario Lopez joins team for 2021-22 season

Coho smolts. (Tanis Grower photo)
OPINION: A giant, invisible problem for Fraser salmon and how to fix it

‘Successful examples of salmon-friendly flood control can already be found throughout the Lower Mainland’

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in B.C.

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

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