MP Brian Masse Politely Asks PM To Enact Canada Sports Betting Bill

Written By Robyn McNeil on August 11, 2021 - Last Updated on June 30, 2022
Close up of a red thumb tack stuck into a date on a calendar

Windsor West MP Brian Masse wants the prime minister to pick a date. And not just any date; the sooner, the better.

Masse sent the prime minister a letter this week asking him to set an effective date for legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada. Bill C-218, which made single-match wagers legal in Canada after numerous previous legislative attempts, passed the Senate on June 22.

“I am asking you to bring this into force today,” Masse wrote. 

“There is no reason to delay this work. As you are aware, the changes to this law have been long for called for by the Canadian gaming sector, law enforcement agencies, sports organizations, unions, first nations, municipalities, and provinces.”

You keep using that word…

Although the letter’s accompanying media release branded Masse’s request a ‘demand,’ the text reveals more of a polite ask. Semantics aside, however, the reasons for his urging make sense.

“C-218 will establish regulated sports betting and ensure the benefits are received [in] communities across the country rather than [by] the illegal operators,” wrote Masse. “Every moment we delay is a continued opportunity for organized crime.”

He also raised the challenge the delay presents provinces and businesses looking to reap the benefits of the new legislation.

“Casinos like Caesars in Windsor are still waiting to develop their full implementation plans, and this effects [sic] their operations and job creation.”

Masse’s letter also noted the financial consequences of the delay, including CA$1.5 billion in wagers made offshore. According to the stats, CA$80 million from those bets went to illegal operators and organized crime. And that’s just since the bill received Royal Assent. That number climbs by CA$2 million every day legalization is further delayed.

Details to follow

Masse’s letter to Prime Minister Trudeau isn’t perfect and even gets some things wrong. Most notably, it claims C-218 took weeks to get Royal Assent. It was only seven days.

But, according to the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), when it comes to the delay’s consequences, Masse has his facts straight.

Masse quoted numbers based on what Canadians are estimated to wager on the unregulated market annually (CA$14 billion). Canadians spend roughly CA$4 billion through offshore online sportsbooks and CA$10 billion via illegal bookmaking operations yearly. Divide 14 million by 365 days, and you get CA$38.5M per day.  And according to CGA’s Paul Burns, sportsbooks earn an average profit margin of 5%. So, approximately $2M per day.

“Those annual figures have been used by the CGA for years,” says Burns, president and CEO. “We have just broken them down into a daily amounts [sic] for purposes of demonstrating the Federal delay on enactment has consequences.”

PlayCanada reached out to the government for confirmation when they will enact C-218. While the Department of Justice was noncommittal on a specific date, Minister of Justice David Lametti’s office responded quickly.

“The Government was proud to support legalizing single sports betting and were pleased to see the bill receive Royal Assent,” wrote Chantalle Aubertin, Lametti’s press secretary.

“Our Government knows that in order for gambling to take place in a safe and responsible way, it must be properly regulated. We look forward to getting this important legislation implemented as soon as possible. More details to share on this soon.”

According to further information given to Yahoo Finance, the “more details” Aubertin refers to could be shared as early as tomorrow.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti is scheduled to speak in Niagara Falls, a hotspot for Canadian tourism and gambling. It’s expected he will reveal Ottawa’s plans to enact single-event wagers.

Photo by Dreamstime.com
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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax with an awesome teen, a mischievous cat, and a penchant for good stories, strong tea, cheeseburgers, yoga, graveyards, hammocks, gardening, games, herb, and hoppy beer.

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