An update from the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) Earlier this month, a few key events were briefly announced that will shape the future of single game sports betting in Canada.
This week, the Canadian Parliament has a double duty. According to the CGA, there are parliamentary events surrounding two bills that would enable single game sports betting in Canada.
The private member billing option in Canada
The first event is the second reading vote MP Kevin WaughInvoice. The second reading and debate of the bill took place on February 5th.
A positive vote would send the bill to what is likely to be a final round of hearings. As the CGA reports, the hearings will take place before Judicial committee.
According to the House of Commons Website, private member invoices come in two flavors:
- Public bills dealing with questions of public order within the jurisdiction of the federal government (e.g. criminal laws relating to sports games)
- Private invoices that deal with interests pertaining to specific individuals or companies
Public bills like Waugh’s bill C-218must be introduced into parliament through a specific procedure. The accounts of private members traditionally face a much larger number of obstacles to becoming law.
In the 100 years between May 4, 1910, and September 7, 2008Canada has only passed 229 bills from private members. However, the bills of private members tend to do significantly better when the party in power has a minority government, as is the case with it Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s liberal Government today.
The “competing” sports betting bill
While private member bills are rarely good at becoming law, Bill C-218 proponents shouldn’t be too nervous. There’s a government bill C-13which leads to the same conclusion: Single game sports betting in Canada would no longer be prohibited under the Canadian Criminal Code.
The government’s bill lags slightly behind the private member’s bill, but according to the CGA, C-13 is slated for a second reading and debate on February 19, 2021.
I’m just a bill …
How Schoolhouse Rock Song that taught American children for decades how a bill becomes law. In Canada, the process is similar, with a few minor differences, but no catchy song.
In Canada, there are three readings of bills before they can become law.
In the first reading, the bill is read to either the House of Commons or the Senate and printed.
A second reading takes place in the same chamber as the first reading, where that chamber can send the bill to a committee or subcommittee for further investigation.
Commitment to Committees
In the committee, a group conducts a line-by-line review of the bill. This is also the time when witnesses and experts can be called in to weigh the bill.
In a previous universe where the sporting leagues opposed legalized betting in Canada and the United States, their testimony went a long way in reducing federal legislation lifting the ban on single bets.
The committee then draws up a report which is sent back to Parliament with recommended amendments or additions. The recommendations are then discussed and voted on by the MPs.
If the House of Commons decides to take a further step, the amended bill will be discussed and voted on in the House of Commons. If the bill is approved, it will be sent to the Senate for consideration.
Unlike the United States, Canadian senators are appointed, not elected. While the upper chamber (the Senate) has traditionally been viewed by some as the stamp of legislation, the Senate has become more deliberate in recent years.
Despite the historical challenges and the emergence of competing bills, many expect Canada to pass parliamentary laws on sports betting for a game this year. This would then open the doors for the provinces to consider introducing products.
We can expect to see a lot going back and forth at the provincial level as to exactly under which model Canadian sports betting should be introduced.
The appetite for laws that would enable sports betting in a game across Canada is not without critics, including at least one prominent member of the Liberal Party. Some experts have also highlighted that the draft law repealing the provision of the Criminal Code is not accompanied by consumer and market protection mechanisms.
The system that requires multiple invoices to be read means that things are not safe until they’re done.
What’s next for sports betting in Canada?
Even with the optimism about single game bets coming to Canada, the actual winds facing or favoring the bills, the bills will show up as we near a third reading. In the period leading up to the third reading, both for and against expect to step up their efforts to convince legislators of their position.
If all goes well and the bill comes from the House of Commons and Senate, it will go to the Governor General for royal approval. From this point on, the bill becomes law. If everything goes according to proponents’ plans, the chances are that there will be legal single game betting early next NFL season, though some pieces still have to fit together.