Attorney General Lametti: Single-Event Canada Sports Betting Is ‘Eh’ OK

Written By Robyn McNeil on August 12, 2021 - Last Updated on June 30, 2022

It’s a whole new world for Canadian sports bettors as of August 27.

That’s the day single-event sports betting in Canada will (finally) be really and truly legal. The announcement was made this afternoon at Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls by Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti

“I am pleased to announce that single-event sports betting will be legal in Canada on August 27th,” Lametti said in a statement released to the media. 

“Canadians will have the opportunity to participate in single-event sports betting in a regulated and safe environment, at the discretion of the provinces and territories. The Government of Canada will continue discussions on the future of gaming, collaboratively with provincial and Indigenous partners.”

Members of Parliament, Chris Bittle (St. Catharines) and Vance Badaway (Niagara Centre) joined the Attorney General at the announcement. Richard Taylor, President of Niagara Casinos, also spoke at the event.

“Canadians have been able to legally bet on sports for a long time through parlays,” said Bittle. He also noted that up until now, instead of creating jobs and boosting tourism, single-event bets had been pushed to illegal markets. 

“Single-event sports betting is a multi-billion dollar industry, and its legalization will add to our economy, create jobs and boost tourism.”

Minister Badawey highlighted the benefits of a regulated industry with his comments. Safer, responsible betting choices and the related tax benefits got a special mention. And the expected (and needed) boost to the economy received its due.

“As Canada’s economy restarts and revs up, we want to make sure it has all the fuel it needs to come back as strong as possible,” Badawey said. 

Long time coming 

Nine years, 10 months and 15 days.

That’s how long it’s been since Joe Comartin, then MP for Windsor—Tecumseh, introduced Bill C-290 on September 28, 2011. That bill, which would have amended Canadian law much like the impending changes, moved quickly through the House of Commons. However, the legislation got held up at its third reading in the Senate in 2012. It later died on the order paper when Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an election in 2015.

Once again, in 2016, MP Brian Masse (Windsor West) tabled Bill C-221, another sports betting bill. This time, though, the bill faced opposition from the Liberal party and was defeated at the second reading.

That brings us to February 2020, when MP Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon-Grasswood) tabled Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act

Initially, C-218 met with competition from Bill C-13, a similar bill introduced by Justice Minister David Lametti. But, the House abandoned C-13 when 218 passed its second reading, leaving Waugh’s private member’s bill to go all the way. 

And that’s just what it did.  

Bill C-218 passed the House on April 22 and the Senate exactly two months later. Then, on June 29, the bill reached Royal Assent. At that time, the government did not announce when the bill would come into force. Since that day, various unknowns and the extended wait dampened excitement for the coming changes.   

By the time the 27th rolls around, it will be just shy of 10 years since September 28, 2011. But, today’s announcement offers something concrete to look forward to.

Well worth the wait

There’s plenty to look forward to on the horizon, too. Although the way things will roll out will be different depending on where you are in the country. 

Recent announcements from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) and British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) indicate they’ll be ready-to-roll on or around the effective date.

AGLC is “looking forward to the day,” it can offer single-event wagers to Albertans. A tweet posted today said it is “gearing up” to introduce the new offerings.

BCLC also chimed in on Twitter, saying players in BC will be able to place single bets and bets on racing and fighting on the first day. They’re also exploring ways to offer single-event options via land-based channels and say details about that are coming soon.

Image of a BCLC tweet. Text reads: Today, the federal government announced Bill C-218 will come into effect August 27. At that time, players will be able to place single-event bets and bets on racing and fighting on @PlayNowSports ! 19+

But, when it comes to sports betting in Canada, all eyes are on Ontario.

Besides having the largest population, so far Ontario is the only one opening its online gambling market to competition. The new market, which will launch by the end of this year, will include Ontario Lotto and Gaming (OLG) and private operators. 

To that end, in July, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) established iGaming Ontario. The subsidiary is responsible for managing the private operators entering the market.

That said, the launch of Ontario’s open market is still a few months out. In the meantime, it seems OLG is ready to take the reigns of Ontario’s sports betting expansion. The crown corporation also announced today that Proline+, its new online sports betting platform, launches on August 27.

“OLG has been looking forward to offering single-event sports wagering to adult Ontarians for many years,” says Duncan Hannay, OLG President and CEO. “We’re thrilled that we’ll be able to incorporate this exciting feature that bettors have been anxiously awaiting into Ontario’s only legal online sportsbook.”

Single-event sports betting in Canada is still almost two weeks away. And, there’s bound to be a lot more to talk about before the big day.

So, stay tuned to PlayCanada for updates.


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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax in an empty nest with 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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