Opinion By Peter Tremblay 664 Views

Can Canada Benefit from a Fully Legalized Sportsbook and Casino Industry?

Canada’s sports betting industry has been pretty much frozen in the 1990s thanks to a law that criminalizes single-game sports betting. In the 1990s, to stay in tandem with the other leading betting markets in the world, Canada moved to legalize sports betting. However, the law still made single-game sports betting illegal, leaving it up to the provinces to decide on the legality of gambling in their jurisdictions. However, the law, the Criminal Code of Canada, still allows parlay-style betting in Canada. In parlay-style betting, punters can place bets on two or more events. The parlay-style betting currently makes up $500 million worth of all legal provincial wagers in the country. This is a good sum but if you consider the fact that Canadians wager some $14 billion annually via illegal bookmaking and foreign gambling websites, it is easy to see how the ban on single-game betting is stifling the industry in Canada. When it comes to domestic market, players from Canada prefer casino like this one, since it also offers sportsbook and plenty of benefits. 

A Strong Momentum Towards the Legalization of Single-Game Betting 

Under pressure from the industry and even the US following the legalization of sports betting across the border, there now appears to be a renewed traction to legalize single-game betting in Canada. This effort has since won support from both the federal and provincial governments.  A new bill, Bill C-218, was recently introduced in parliament that aims to legalize single-game sports betting in the country for the first time. If it passes, this new law will significantly expand the local gambling scene and enable Canada to get up to speed with some of the leading sports betting markets in the world. More than $14 billion is lost in illegal bookmaking operations and offshore sports betting websites annually and we could soon see a huge part of these billions flowing back through Canadian sportsbooks and shoring up the Canadian sports betting market. However, the bill will still not allow Canadians to bet on single horse-racing. The legislation will open the way for the territories and the provinces to license and regulate single-game sports betting events within their respective jurisdictions. If the legislation goes through, and there is strong momentum that it might, Canadian punters will for the first time be allowed to wager on single sports events within a legal and regulated framework inside the country through online sports betting platforms as well as the brick-and-mortar establishments.  

Benefits of Legal Single-Game Betting in Canada 

Proponents for the lifting of the ban have continually argued that the criminalization on single sports betting has been stifling for the Canadian gambling industry. That the revenue potential of the sports betting industry that could be channeled to the economy is lost to foreign sportsbooks and illegal gambling operations. A lifting of the ban on single-game betting could therefore channel billions into the economy and help create jobs and economic opportunities in Canada. It would see an uptick in legal single sports betting in the country which could generate considerable new tax revenues for cities throughout Canada. Removing prohibitions on betting on single sporting events could also curtail illegal gambling. The slow pace of development in the Canadian sportsbook market due to the prohibitions imposed by the law has seen many Canadians resort to illegal gambling operations. It is estimated that Canadians wager $10 billion annually via illegal bookmakers. This is on top of the $4 billion that is wagered on online offshore betting companies. That is a whopping $14 billion of Canadian money flowing into the hands of illegal bookmakers and offshore betting companies that make zero contributions to the economy of Canada. They are in fact siphoning billions of dollars annually out of the local economy.

By legalizing single sporting event betting, the revenues that flows into the pockets of organized crime and other nefarious players will begin flowing into Canadian cities, creating jobs, tax revenues and lots of other economic opportunities for Canadians. Legalizing and regulating gambling will get Canadians rushing back to the local sportsbooks and other online gambling websites.  Legalized gaming could have lots of other positive effects. A robust local sports betting scene could support other players and create even more secondary employment opportunities and positive economic impact. For instance, a robust local betting scene can support tech and software development companies that create systems to manage the online betting platforms. It will create more jobs in the entertainment scene, journalism, local bookmakers, mathematicians and statisticians, retail workers and lots of other brick-and-mortar jobs in the betting industry as demand rises. 

A legalized gaming regimen will bring the punters ‘home’ and enable regulators to better police malpractices and criminality in the Canadian gambling world such as money laundering, match fixing as well as other nefarious activities often associated with organized crime which has its knees deep in the offshore gambling business. It also allows the regulator to clamp down on unethical activities and impose responsible gambling standards in Canada. By regulating sports betting, Canadian authorities will be in a better position to better track local betting patterns and clamp down on match fixing and bribery. Canadian authorities will also be in a better position to track local gambling and know who is betting and how they are betting. Currently, with most of the wagers going to offshore bookies, the regulators are pretty much groping in the dark since they cannot get all the information they need to clamp down on criminal activities.