Canadian government tables bill to decriminalize single-event sports betting


In this Sept. 5, 2019 photo, people watch the first NFL game of the season in the sports betting lounge at Bally's casino in Atlantic City N.J. (Wayne Parry / AP)

The federal government introduced a bill Thursday proposing to decriminalize single-event sports betting in Canada, following a similar trend in the U.S. where states have eased longstanding restrictions on gambling.

As it stands, Canadians are only allowed to parlay – place multiple bets on a game and pick the winner for each context. Per CBC News, sports bettors across the country lay down about $500 million a year on parlay bets through companies like Pro-Line.

Meanwhile, an estimated $14 billion is dolled out through the black market, via bookies or off-shore online outlets, according to the Canadian Gaming Association, where they can gamble on just a single game.

Thursday’s proposed bill would give provinces and territories the ability to offer single-event sports betting and oversee it in their jurisdiction, whether be it online or at a physical location like a casino.

“The amendments we are proposing today will help create a safe and regulated environment for Canadians who wish to participate in single event sport betting. This bill would also protect Canadians by taking profits out of the hands of organized crime and will help our economy by supporting jobs. These changes also create the opportunity to work with Indigenous people to strengthen their participation in the gaming industry,” David Lametti, minister of the Department of Justice, said in a statement.

In the U.S., a 2018 Supreme Court ruling lifted federal limits on sports betting in states other than Nevada, leading states such as New Jersey, New York and Michigan to legalize single-game gambling at casinos, racetracks and online.

The decision has also had a trickle-down effect of a proliferation of partnerships between sports media companies and gambling ventures, like ESPN with Caesars Entertainment and DraftKings, Fox Sports and The Stars Group.

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