Kevin Waugh wants some action.
The Saskatoon-Grasswood MP says his province’s inability to get single-event Canada sports betting up and running is unacceptable nearly nine months after its decriminalization.
Betting pundits will remember Bill C-218 – officially known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act – passed the Canadian Senate in late June 2021.
Waugh introduced the private member bill.
Previously the law only allowed only parlay bets (predicting the outcome of multiple events). But after Aug.27 – when the government officially enforced Waugh’s bill – that changed nationwide.
Since then, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta have benefitted immensely from the decision.
Not the case in Saskatchewan, according to Waugh.
“There’s winners and losers, and unfortunately, the province of Saskatchewan today is a loser,” said Waugh via the CBC.
Burden of responsibility thrust on Saskatchewan Indian Authority (SIGA)
The crux of the issue centres around the province of Saskatchewan handing off its responsibility.
The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority is currently responsible for most tasks to get single-game betting up and running.
Granted, that is mainly due to an amendment made to the gaming framework agreement in 2021.
The deal between the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the provincial government gave SIGA the authority to spearhead the project.
Thus far, the primary responsibilities include:
- Developing a website offering single-game event betting
- Creating sportsbooks in its retail properties
According to Waugh, that’s a lot of work – and more importantly, it’s taking too long.
He thinks the Saskatchewan government should have been an active participant.
“This thing was passed last June,” said Waugh. “Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming knew this was on the agenda. They should have watched it go through the process.”
“There is no question Saskatchewan has dropped the ball.”
SIGA aims for fall website launch of single-event sports betting
SIGA has assured punters they are working diligently.
The organization said its website should launch later in 2022.
At least two SIGA casinos will undergo renovations to offer sportsbooks. And an announcement of a third-party provider will follow in coming weeks.
But the (legal) betting market is a highly-regulated industry.
Complicated policies, procedures, and hefty fines/lawsuits wait for hasty and sloppy operators.
According to SIGA’s senior vice-president of operations, Lionel Tootoosis, it is better to take it slow and get it right the first time around.
“We have to make sure we have everything in place and that we’re adhering to the laws and all the different parts to operating a business online,” he said.
Sport Select only betting option available in Saskatchewan
Pundits can still bet in Saskatchewan. But it must be through Sport Select.
Waugh isn’t a fan.
“The odds are horrible in Sport Select, I might add,” said Waugh. “They are not the same as they are in Ontario or B.C. or Alberta that have single-event sports betting right now.”
That means most money is probably headed elsewhere – in offshore markets.
Of course, Waugh’s main argument is to keep the dollars at home.
With provincial lotteries being Crown agencies, all gambling proceeds are reinvested into the province to serve regional priorities.
Before Bill C-218 passing, Waugh estimated an annual $14 billion was likely spent on unregulated black markets, offering single-event betting.
Single-events betting end all, be all? WCLC not convinced
A good reference point for single-event betting offerings in the prairies would be the Western Canada Lottery Corporation.
They represent Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut as associate members.
On Nov.1, 2021, the Crown agency made single-event offerings available. Since then, WCLC has reported those offerings accounting for roughly 20% of all Sport Select bets.
Numbers, reportedly, are rising every month.
WCLC estimates about 9% of Sport Select players use single-event bets as their primary wagering method. Ultimately, however, the majority of bets are still parlays.
“It’s the betting method they’re more familiar with,” said John Towns, manager of communications and corporate affairs for WCLC.
“And it also provides opportunities for players [to] win a little bit bigger than the single-event bets do.”
PlayCanada reached out to MP Waugh for comment.
We received no response as of publication.