Canada

Canada’s Senate has, on Tuesday, passed a bill to legalise bets on single games or sports, which were previously illegal, except for those placed on horse racing.

The law, Bill C-128, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code, is now eligible to receive Royal Assent and come into effect, depending on how each of Canada’s provinces and territories decide to implement the legal betting.

Some provinces had indicated they will move quickly to get the rules in place, and several entities have indicated they are gearing up to take advantage of the pent-up revenue streams.

For example, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, via PlayNow.mt, is “positioned to allow single-event wagering online almost immediately”, according to Travis Paterson, a spokesman for the district’s Public Safety Ministry.

The passage of the law has been a long time coming.

Similar legislation passed through the country’s House of Commons with cross-partisan support almost 10 years ago, but stalled in the senate and fizzled out when an election was called in 2015.

A second attempt in 2016 was again defeated, by a bipartisan coalition.

Finally, this third attempt, launched by Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, received broad support from legislators in all four of the major Canadian parties, passing the House with multi-party support in February.

The bill’s sponsor in the Upper House, Senator David Wells, has previously predicted that allowing Las Vegas-style betting on single games would eat into the multibillion-dollar black market and redirect that revenue to local Governments.

He has previously predicted that Canadians are placing “billions of dollars” in bets annually through offshore sites, which are “entirely unregulated” in Canada.

Prominent stakeholders welcomed the news, including the Canadian Football League (CFL), National Hockey League, and others in the sports industry.

In a statement, the CFL has predicted the bill “will move sports wagering out of the shadows and into the light of day where it belongs”.

The equestrian community has hesitantly also backed the bill, though it will remain concerned that casinos and foreign gambling sites could now encroach on the market it has dominated.

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