Canadian casino and betting industry news

If the bill is approved by the Canadian Senate, the gaming laws in each Canadian province will be self-regulated

Canada is well on its way to legalising single football, hockey, and other sports bets. The bill is going to amend the Criminal Code so that Las Vegas-style bets become legal. The bill, C-218, is on its way to Canada’s Senate. 

At the moment, Canadian law only allows bettors to bet on three or more sports events. If the bill is approved by the Canadian Senate, the gaming laws in each Canadian province will be self-regulated, allowing single bets both online and in-person. Due to the nature of the sport, horse racing is currently the only event that allows such bets.

The bill was introduced to the Parliament by Kevin Waugh, Saskatoon-Grasswoodin’s MP, back in February 2020. The bill's purpose is to protect people and athletes better while also bringing back the Canadian bettors that are now actively placing bets on offshore sites.

According to the Canadian Gaming Association, in 2020 alone, there have been more than C$15 billion spent by Canadian citizens on gambling. Only C$450 million of those bets were placed legally. Most of the Canadian bets have ended up in the pockets of illegal bookmaking operations. A market analysis run by Deloitte Canada has observed that Canada could see a large influx of funds coming from gambling if the bill passes. 

If they were to keep the wagering in-house, it is expected that by 2025 the market could grow from the current C$450 million to a staggering C$28 billion. Waugh has correctly informed the House members that if they allow for the bill to pass, considerable growth that would generate impressive revenue could be seen. This would not only assist the legal gambling industry but would also spark growth in the sporting industry. 

The second attempt

While the passing of the current C-128 Bill looks highly promising, previous attempts ended up unsuccessful. Back in 2015, a similar bill ended up flaring out when it reached the Senate. Back in 2016, there was another attempt, Bill-CG90, the Liberal Party also voted that down. The current bill is enthusiastically backed by MPs from all four parties, but this does not guarantee that it will indeed pass. 

The bill has higher chances of being passed due to the recent investigations done into who is benefiting from illegal gambling. In December 2019, the Ontario Provincial Police identified an extensive network controlling unlawful gambling in the area. The criminal network runs under the Hells Angels biker gang and has earned over C$131 million over the past five years only in Ontario.

If we average the industry average profit margin at 6% from sportsbook operations, they bagged around C$2.5 billion over the same period over the entire Canadian territory. 

Illegal gambling is considered low-risk and high-reward for biker gangs. The funds obtained from illicit gambling are later on funneled into drug trafficking that ends up in Canada. This turns into a vicious cycle that has Canada flooded with cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl analogs. 

Leveling the playing field

Large online gambling companies are removing more than C4$ billion from Canadians every year. Bet365 and Bodog are only some of the most significant players on the market that operate in Canada but have headquarters in Antigua and Barbuda. If the bill were to pass infusions of capital in Canadian-owned casinos and betting websites are to be expected. This would in turn offer more jobs for Canadian citizens and keep the funds within the country.

Shares are already rising for Canadian companies due to the expected capital infusion once the bill does pass. Bragg Gaming Group and FansUnite Entertainment have seen rising shares as a sizable number of Canadian gamblers are expected to flock to their websites. The same exponential growth has been seen when the US had a similar situation back in 2018. The federal law of 1992 has been overturned and it made sports bets legal once again. As of March 2021, Washington D.C. and 25 other states have legalized sports betting. Seventeen other states are also actively trying to legalize sports betting with pre-file legislation. 

If the bill is passed, the land-based casinos will also greatly benefit from it. At the moment they have been hit very hard by COVID-19 regulations and resurgence is to be expected once the spread of COVID is reduced. However, this will be dependant on each province as they will be the ones that decide how to regulate the single-event bets.