Senate Passes Bill Legalizing Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada

Senate Passes Bill Legalizing Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada

Go ahead and add Canada to the list of places aggressively seeking looser laws on sports betting. Most associate this push with the United States, which has seen a monster uptick in legal sports gambling over the past few years, but their neighbors up north are just as vested in expanding their sports wagering reach. 

Most recently, the Senate passed a bill legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada. This is believed to be the penultimate step toward the near-complete allowance of sports gambling in the country.

But the question remains: What's next?

Impact of Legalized Sports Betting in Canada

If you're a little confused by Canada's recent legislation—known as Bill C-218—it's understandable. This isn't an attempt by the country to legalize all forms of sports betting. Some, like parlay wagers, have been allowed by Canada for decades.

Single-event betting, though, was always left off that list. But with the economy reeling on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic, the urgency to create new revenue streams within Canada and its provinces is off the charts. Opening the doors to more sports betting options is not only a means of extra cash flow but it's expected to be a lucrative one at that.

Still, there is a lot Canada must continue to figure out.

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Next Steps For Legal Betting In Canada

Getting through the Senate is not the final step for Bill C-218—far from it, in fact. 

Next up is royal assent, the final part of the countrywide process. The green light here is considered a formality. Bill C-218 has already worked its way up a handful of steps on the ladder. Most proposals that make it this far are usually written into law.

From there, though, the implementation of single-event wagering will be at the discretion of each individual province. Think of it like the structure of the United States. The federal government legalized all forms of sports gambling years ago, but it has been up to each state on whether they want to follow through with it or not.

If you're in Canada and worried Bill C-218 won't positively impact your access to sports betting, you needn't concern yourself that much. While some states in the U.S. continue to eschew the legalization of sports betting, there isn't expected to be the same level of resistance from Canadian provinces.

Benefits Of Single-Event Betting In Canada?

Why, exactly, is Canada projected to embrace sports gambling on a higher, more universal scale? Well, for starters, the preexisting laws suggest an openness to it. Like we mentioned at the top of this, Canada had already legalized parlay-betting on many events, so this isn't that stark of a leap from the ordinary.

On top of that, individual provinces will be able to more specifically tailor the use of sports betting. They have the option of opening their doors to private or public sportsbooks—or both. They can also futz and fiddle with how they want to roll out in-person sports wagering if they wish to do so at all. 

Most places within Canada are expected to welcome the chance to provide in-person wagering. Doing so ensures the addition of plenty of jobs, in both the private and public betting sectors. And given that it has been one of the benefits most emphasized throughout this entire process, it's probably a good sign for those wondering whether they'll eventually have the opportunity to place bets at ballparks and stadiums.

Finally, of course, there is the financial incentive, which forecasts as massive.

Experts peg potential profits from Bill C-218 to reach more than $4.5 billion annually, and that's just to start. That number can and should grow as the Canadian sports-betting market expands and it becomes more of a mainstay across the country. 

Truth be told, the initial projection could also end up being a bit low. It depends on how far-flung the implementation of online sports gambling becomes. Canada is already losing droves of cash to residents who wager with international sportsbooks. The more business that transitions from those spots to domestic sportsbooks, the more money the country stands to make.

Regardless, the multi-year windfall will be gigantic. You'll be hard-pressed to find government officials calling for less than $28 to $30 billion in revenue over the first half-decade.

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When Will Single-Event Sports Wagering Officially Hit Canada?

This question is a bit tougher to answer. Just because Canada has seemingly guaranteed the legalization of single-event betting doesn't mean it's actually fast-tracked.

Bill C-218 itself was first introduced in February 2020, which means it has taken nearly 18 months to get this far. The final stamp of approval via royal assent isn't supposed to take long, but it adds some time to the calculus. 

The longest wait will come once each province implements its intended forms of single-event betting. There will be more votes and discussions at the local levels, and the dates of actual availability will vary across the country. For provinces looking to roll out a ton of in-person betting, it could take longer to set up than it will for places not installing single-event wagering at such a large scale.

Whatever the case, most provinces in Canada should see the change to their criminal code and the introduction of single-event betting become reality by early to mid-2022. That's a win.

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Meet the author

Eric Uribe

Eric has been passionate about sports since he was 10 years old. He brings over 10 years of sports journalism experience to his expert coverage of sports betting. Hailing from the US, Eric leverages his diverse expertise covering sports at all levels – from high sch...

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