Opinion: Another week, another Canadian sports betting hearing on the books
The steady progress towards single game sports betting in Canada seems to be on the right track, although potential storm clouds are on the horizon.
A Canadian parliamentary committee held additional hearings late last month.
These were used to potentially amend the country’s criminal code to allow sports betting in a game THE.
The hearings contained statements from various interest groups. In addition to witnesses who represent the horse racing industry, the interests of the NHL, the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, and The score were all represented at the hearing on Tuesday.
The last hearing took place in camera or behind closed doors, but the parliamentary committee released a transcript.
What happened behind closed doors?
After initial confusion about whether everyone was looking at the same document and the draftsman was accidentally excluded from the virtual hearing room, the committee began examining the bill.
Once the hearing was underway, a Liberal representative was appointed for Niagara Center, Vance Badaweyproposed to amend the bill in the following language:
(b) bookmaking, pool sales or the placing or recording of bets, including bets placed through the agency of a pool or pari-mutuel system, on horse races; or
The only comment on the amendment was why the Liberal’s amendment did not include the quotation marks, which were in the Conservative version of the proposed amendment (it is believed that there was laughter but this is not documented on the record).
The amendments were adopted unanimously 11-0. The draft law now returns to Parliament with the committee’s amendment.
More news on sports betting in Canada will follow
As with the spring thaw, a number of the briefs submitted in recent weeks have been made available to the public.
Some prominent names were among the groups submitted, including the National soccer league and Rogers Communications.
With all the noise made about theScore’s footprint in Canada, one of the big questions revolves around media giant Rogers’ interest in Canadian sports betting. The report released on March 22, 2021 offers some key insights.
Rogers begins his assignment by stating that sports betting is already available in Canada, both in the form of licensed provincial parlay offers and gray market operators.
The amendment to the Penal Code will allow the provinces to allow safe, responsible and regulated sports betting while bringing economic benefits to Canadians.
The media giant also referred to increased consumer protection in connection with the legalization of single game bets.
A big question for many Canadians, and perhaps competition fear, is whether Rogers is interested in getting into the sports betting realm should the market be demonopolized. Rogers doesn’t reveal much about their plans other than saying:
Sports betting income from C-218 generated through advertising or other experiences for Rogers will support jobs and further improve the entertainment opportunities for all Canadians.
The NFL makes a statement – wait, the NFL?
The NFL used its Canadian mandate to campaign for the use of official league data, among other things.
The league argued that official data protects consumers from games that may not be happening (ghost games).
(Aside from this editorial on this point: Not to reduce the threat posed by ghost games that actually occur and seriously jeopardize market integrity, but there are market protection measures that protect consumer protection much better than restricting the data market to so-called official data. Indeed, a robust, competitive data market would arguably offer more protection than a system where all data comes from a common input.)
The NFL Canadian filing does not make it clear whether they believe someone might be staging an NFL ghost game or whether they are just thinking about ghost games in general. Not to spoil the surprise, but the idea of a ghost NFL game would be nigh on impossible.
The NFL comes up with some reasonable consumer protections, like banning insiders from betting and using responsible gaming resources. However, this bill is a simple repeal of the language in the Criminal Code, so the endorsement appears to be directed at the wrong group of lawmakers.
Support the CFL votes
The Canadian Football League took the opportunity to issue a short, two-page filing to express their support for the bill, in which it owes the impact of a COVID-19. The league cited the ability to attract new fans to the game as one of the reasons they support the bill.
Like others, the CFL noted the need for adequate safeguards, but urged Parliament to move this legislation forward.
Support for Canadian sports betting not unanimous
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake submitted a brief notice stating that while the bill amends the penal code in relation to the provinces, it does not provide equal recognition to “indigenous governments that provide legitimate, regulated and well-established games at sporting events operate…”.
The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake is proposing an amendment to the Criminal Code which states:
207 (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of this part relating to games and betting, it is lawful to do so
(a) that an indigenous governing body shall operate and administer a lottery system under the terms of an agreement with the Government of Canada;
Lack of communication
The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation submitted a brief comment that the government has a constitutional duty to “conduct meaningful consultation with indigenous governments before enacting laws to legalize sports bookmaking”.
The letter mentions the historic exclusion of indigenous governments from having a say in regulating gambling in Canada.
What is happening now for sports betting in Canada?
The bill now returns to Parliament to either approve or reject the amendment. The bill is expected to become law at some point in the future.
However, there appears to be a growing number of voices questioning the proposed repeal of the legislation. While the passage of the bill remains preferred, it is becoming clear that any provincial rollout is likely to be contested.