Federal Government introduces legislation to decriminalize single event sport betting in Canada, support jobs
November 26, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Justice Canada
Strengthening our economy and reducing criminal activity are important to creating a safer and stronger Canada. That is why the Government of Canada is acting to decriminalize single event sport betting in Canada so that these activities take place in a safe and regulated environment, while supporting good, well-paying jobs for Canadians.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, announced the introduction of proposed legislative amendments to paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code that would permit provinces and territories to regulate and license single event sport betting on any sporting event except horse racing. The federal government would maintain its role in overseeing pari-mutuel betting on horse racing. The proposed amendments would give provinces and territories the discretion to manage single event sport betting in their respective jurisdictions and offer Canadians an opportunity to place bets in a regulated environment either online or in physical facilities.
By taking illegal betting profits out of the hands of organized crime, the revenues generated from provincial and territorial-operated gambling could be used by provinces and territories to fund programs and services in areas such as health care and education, as they currently do with other lottery revenues. The proposed amendments also clearly respond to calls from labour leaders, particularly in communities along the Canada-U.S. border, following similar changes made in a number of border states.
Additionally, the federal government is proposing to engage with provinces and territories and with Indigenous communities and organizations that have expressed an interest in discussing how gambling is regulated.
“The amendments we are proposing today will help create a safe and regulated environment for Canadians who wish to participate in single event sport betting. This Bill would also protect Canadians by taking profits out of the hands of organized crime and will help our economy by supporting jobs. These changes also create the opportunity to work with Indigenous people to strengthen their participation in the gaming industry.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Single event sport betting is betting on the outcome of a single sporting game (e.g., the Grey Cup game).
The regulation of single event sport betting would be up to the discretion of each province and territory with the exception of horse racing, which remains regulated and supervised by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA).
The Canadian Gaming Association estimates that Canadians spend approximately $10 billion per year on single event sport betting conducted illegally through organized crime, and approximately $4 billion through offshore internet sites that are not provincially regulated.
Pari-mutuel betting is an exchange of monies between the bettors, less a percentage of the bet, which goes to racetracks and the federal and provincial governments.
The CPMA maintains this regulatory framework to ensure the integrity of pari-mutuel betting systems used in horse racing in Canada.
Following a 2018 US Supreme Court decision, a number of states have legalized single event sport betting or have legislation before their state legislature to consider legalization.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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