Single-Event Sport Betting Becomes Legal in Canada

canada waving flag

Canada’s legal sports betting industry is set to add single-game wagers to the betting board. Bill C-218 passed the Senate as the final legislative hurdle to clear.

Industry insiders have estimated that allowing single-game wagers on sports such as hockey, football, basketball, and baseball along with bets on individual sporting events will add billions of dollars to the current betting handle.

The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act had is opposition among lawmakers. The final vote in the Senate on Tuesday, June 22 came down to 57 votes in favor of the measured verse 20 against with five senators abstaining.

The result immediately raised the share price of Score Media and Gaming based in Toronto. It also lifted the share price of Bragg Gaming Group as another major player in the Canadian sports betting industry.

A few of the issues on the table ahead of the final vote included:

  • Consumer protection
  • Problem gambling
  • Benefits to the economy
  • Possible corruption and fraud in sporting events

The positives obviously outweighed the negatives in the nearly three-to-one result. The law will come into force through a decision by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet.

Passage of Bill C-128 did come down to the wire with the upper chamber scheduled to begin its summer break at the end of June. A big part of the ongoing discussion centers on the regulatory aspect of the new law.

Outside of the legislative system in Canada, the National Hockey League (NHL) and telecommunications and media company Rogers Communications were two strong proponents of Bill C-128 and the proposed changes to the existing law.

The existing Criminal Code banned wagers on single games with the exception of a single horse race. The only legal form of sports betting in Canada was tied to parlay bets grouping teams together.

It has been estimated that offshore sportsbooks along with black market gambling venues generated an annual sports betting handle of more than $14 billion in Canada. This figure was released by the Canadian Gaming Association.

Investment firm Deloitte Canada believes this new law will pave the way for rapid industry expansion in legal sports betting. Volume figures could go from $500 million to nearly $28 billion over a five-year span.

Score Media and Gaming has estimated the market potential in Canada for legal online sports betting is anywhere between $3.8 billion and $5.4 billion in US dollars.

John Levy is the chairman and CEO of Score Media and Gaming. He released the following comments following the favorable outcome of the Senate vote:

“The forthcoming legalization of single-event sports betting presents a substantial growth opportunity for our integrated media and betting business.”

He went on to add:

“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. We are very favourably positioned to succeed given our mobile betting expertise and vast active user base.”

In the US, FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM all have existing ties north of the border that should be expanded as a result of the new law.

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