Robert Linnehan

Oh Canada! Citizens of the Great White North may soon be able to enjoy legalized single-game sports betting after the approval of bill C-128.

The Senate of Canada approved bill C-128 by a vote of 57-20 with five abstentions without amendment at third reading. This bill will allow each Canadian province to regulate and legalize single-game sports betting on their own, similar to the 2018 process in the United States when the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibiting states from authorizing sports betting.

The vote followed the bill’s approval by the House of Commons in April.

Canada’s single-game sports betting program could kick off sometime later this year, which would coincide with the launch of the New York online sports betting program.

Bringing Legalized Single-Game Betting to Canada

The Private Member’s bill, sponsored by Saskatoon-Grasswood Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, amends the Canadian Criminal Code to remove language that required sports bets to be placed across multiple events. Until now Canadian residents could only legally wager on multi-leg parlays.

“The passage of my Private Member’s Bill to legalize single-event sports betting in the Senate is a victory for Canadian sport, sport fans, and businesses. For too long, black market bookmakers and offshore websites have had a monopoly on single-event betting. It’s time that Canadians take back this massive market,” Waugh said in statement.

Following Royal Assent, the final stage of the Canadian legislative process that transforms a bill into law, the bill will allow third-party sportsbook operators to begin working with provincial partners, the Canadian Gaming Association said in a statement.

Waugh touted the passage of the bill as a win for Canadian taxpayers and urged provincial leadership to allow single-game sports betting as quickly as possible.

“Following this legislation becoming law, provincial governments will be responsible for implementing regulations and wagering operators in their jurisdictions. I call on provincial governments to act as quickly as possible to get the necessary regulations and licenses in place so that all Canadians can begin to place their wagers,” he said in a statement.

Here’s What We Know So Far:

  • A 2021 launch of single-game betting for interested provinces is expected.
  • Horse racing is not included.
  • An amendment to specifically include First Nations Indigenous groups in the bill was voted down earlier this week. It’s unknown if, or how, the groups will be included.
  • The NHL, NBA, MLB, Canadian Football League and Canadian Premier League were among 25 stakeholders who supported the immediate passage of the bill.
  • It’s estimated Canadians illegally wagered C$10 billion annually through illegal bookmaking operations and C$4 billion annually through offshore online sportsbooks. Only C$500 million is wagered annually through legal Canadian operations, according to the Canadian Gaming Association.
  • In May, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis announced Play Alberta would offer sports betting in late 2021.
  • DraftKings and FanDuel both currently offer daily fantasy sports contests in Canada.
  • In June, PointsBet announced the hire of gaming industry veteran Nic Sulsky for a planned expansion into Canada.
  • BetMGM announced a multi-year partnership with Wayne Gretzky earlier this month. BetMGM’s Chief Revenue Officer Matt Prevost said Gretzky brings a unique ability to tell the brand’s story “as we look toward potential expansion into Canada.”
  • Caesars has a presence in Ontario with its Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino.
  • Ontario would likely be the most desirable province to allow single-game betting. It’s the highest populated province in Canada, with 13.4 million residents according to the 2016 Canadian Census.
  • The second most populated province in Canada is Quebec with 8.1 million residents. British Columbia is third with 4.6 million residents.