Canada allows its provinces to run sports betting lotteries but it just dropped the ball on sports betting in a big way and now find themselves behind the USA. Even though we are usually the more liberal country in terms of legalizing recreational drugs and abortion, our old fashioned sports betting views are about to cost our country legal jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars – our underground bookmakers rejoice.
Section 207(4)(b) of Canada’s criminal code is clear – governments can run lotteries but they can NOT allow wagers on a single sporting event. OLG in Ontario can offer ProLine and sports betting, BUT you must wager on multiple events or parlays. If you want to legally bet on a Stanley Cup game in Canada, you must also wager on other games on the same ticket (baseball or soccer as it occurs in the summer). This decreases your chances of winning.
This rule was set to change in Canada. Advocated by Brian Masse, Windsor’s MP, Bill-C221 was set to re-write the criminal code allowing Canadians to bet on a single sporting event (like the Super Bowl), run by the provincial lotteries, in a safe environment. Brian spoke at the Gaming Law program I run, explaining how Windsor casino and other border casinos would benefit from Americans driving north to wager on their favourite sports teams. Jobs and money would flow north of the border as progressive Canada allowed single sports betting. The USA does not really allow sports betting outside of Nevada, so Americans in upstate New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Washington would be way closer to legal sports betting in Canada than in any part of the USA. Canada would create beautiful sports books at its casinos – food, supersized TVs and legal sports betting. However, this was not to be as the federal Liberals quashed the bill in 2016. Ironically, the Liberals explained fears of ‘match fixing’ and game integrity as reasoning. Ironic as the NBA and MLB are now advocating for legal sports betting.
Today the US Supreme court paved the way for legal sports betting in the majority of US states in the next couple years. A couple border states could have it in time for the NFL this fall and a lot of Americans will be legally betting on the Super Bowl come February. The conservative USA with a Republican leader will have single sports betting while progressive Canada with a Liberal leader does not. This will not last. Canada will follow the USA and legalize single sports betting within a couple years to ensure its casinos and economy do not lose jobs and money to the USA. It is just a shame we always have to react to the USA versus proactively doing the right thing when we had the chance.