Lawmakers in Canada are set to put a crucial vote this coming September 21 on the C-221 bill which aims to amend the national criminal code that allows single-game wagering or gambling in Canada, according to our reliable sources.
On this day, lawmakers from the House of Commons will ascertain whether to reject the bill known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act or send the said bill straight to the Committee on Justice and Human Rights for more discussion.
The Fate of Canada’s Sports Betting
If C-221 bill gets sent to the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, there will be a high chance that it also passes and gets moved on to the Senate, which has been known to have block numerous previous attempts to permit sports wagering.
On the other hand, if the C-221 bill does not get referred to the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the bill would eventually die and defer sports betting decriminalization efforts in the foreseeable future.
C-221 Dubbed as Safe and Regulated Sports Betting
C-221 bill was introduced and spearheaded by New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for Windsor West, Ontario Brian Masse last February 12. His bill aims to strike out a section of Canada’s current Criminal Code which will allow territories and provinces to permit wagering on “any race or fight, or on a single sports event or athletic contest.” With the current status quo, lottery monopolies in the provinces are not allowed to multi-game parlay wagering.
The bill allows the “enactment repeals paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code to make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the province that involves betting on a race or fight or on a single sport event or athletic contest.”
According to a press release from Brian Masse, he suggested that private firms may find an important role in the sports betting industry as he also described the resent single-game sports wagering industry as “nearly completely unregulated.” He said that by passing this bill, firms which are operating in his so-called “gray area of market sports” will be asked to be regulated.
A house divided down the middle
While many members express their vocal support for the passage of the bill, many are in doubt that passing the said bill will not really solve organized crimes which are related to gambling. They think that passing this bill will only encourage an already staggering number of gambling-related problems.
During an interview, Liberal Member of Parliament Bill Blair shared his sentiment regarding this bill. He said that, “While I appreciate the economic advantages that the proposed reform could bring about, the big concern I have to share is the impact that this proposed change could have on individuals and families, the social costs of gaming.”
“I believe that if Bill C-221 were to pass, the costs to the provinces and territories would inevitably increase. More important, the cost to individuals, families, and society would increase,” Bill Blair added.
According to some reports, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s administration is “okay” with the said bill. But after the election of liberal Prime Minister Trudeau, Member of Parliament Sean Casey released a statement that Trudeau’s administration will not give or show support to the bill.
Supporters claim bill will boost economy and transparency
Members of the House of Commons are have different views on the subject of this debated bill. Some members claim that passing the C-221 bill helps boost Canada’s transparency and economy in the process.
After the said bill has undergone two sets of discussions in the House of Commons, with the recent one this June, many advocates have expressed their support.
New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Tracey Ramsey said that it is critical that C-221 gets passed as it would definitely “benefit tourism industries in many regions.” Citing a report, MP Ramsey claimed that Canadians have long been spending money for gambling and, for the past 10 years, Canadians “have spent more than $500 million per year wagering on sports legally.”
Members of the New Democratic Party have cited that Canada’s current illegal sports betting handle is in the range of $14 billion to $15 billion which can be considered as around 10% of what the American Gaming Association (or AGA) estimates the illegal US sports betting handle to be.
Member of Parliament Brian Masse claims that the passage of the C-221 bill will reduce – if not at all stop – organized crimes and will bring job opportunities to thousands of Canadians which will then help the growing unemployment rate.
On the other hand, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Kennedy Stewart also showed support for the MP Brian Masse’s bill as he thinks that whether legalized or not, gambling will be there and that by passing this bill activities will be more transparent.
C-221 carries on the efforts of C-290
In some ways, Member of Parliament Masse continues and inherits the fight for legal sports betting from his former colleague and friend, Joe Comartin, ex-New Democratic Party Member of Parliament.
Ex-MP Joe Comartin introduced the C-290 bill which has successfully passed the House of Commons with ease but somehow struggled in the Senate during a three-year debate before it gets killed by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2003.
Following the parliamentary rule, a bill cannot be reintroduced before a period of five years has expired. Due to this clause, if the bill gets killed on the September 21 vote, the Canadian parliament would not be seeing yet another bill that aims to legalize sports betting until the year 2021.
Considering the timeframe mentioned above, Masse said in an interview in June that “this is an opportunity we will not have again.”
While there are many other legislative avenues that an MP could track in order to provide a regulated and legal framework for sports wagering, many believe that amending Canada’s criminal code is so far the most feasible way there is.