Ontario Lawmakers Confident on Sports Gambling Bill’s Rapid Progress

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Canada’s sports gambling industry has been severely handicapped since it was introduced, limiting wagers to only parlay bets. It has never allowed single-event wagers, such as a bet on the winner of a particular game, but that could soon change. The country’s lawmakers have been working on a sports gambling bill, C-218, that would open the industry and, as it is beginning to appear promising for a late-2021 approval, Ontario wants to pull the trigger as quickly as possible.

Ontario Is Framing Its Sports Gambling Market

Ontario lawmakers don’t want to wait for C-218 to be federally approved before it has its regulations in place. The largest province in the country has been diligently drafting language to cover its market and grab a piece of what is expected to be a $23 billion-a-year industry. Ontario is going to try something novel with its sports gambling market. It is essentially going to open it up to almost any operator, which is certainly going to attract a lot of attention.

DraftKings, Score Media, Gragg Gaming and many others are closely watching what happens in Canada, ready to jump in on the nascent market in Ontario once it goes live. The province wants to have that market operational sometime later this year and plans for it to be part of a larger iGaming market that would also allow wagers on the Oscars and even peer-to-peer gambling on casino games.

C-218 Continues To Advance in Parliament

C-218 has made a great deal of progress as it sailed through the House of Commons last month, but still needs to get beyond the Senate to become law. The chamber has been discussing the bill and seems to be in favor of it, but there have been plenty of examples of bills that had support before stalling at the last minute. The bill has made it through one reading already and another is scheduled for next Tuesday. It would likely have one more before advancing, but Senators have a tendency to favor government-led initiatives. C-218 is a bill presented by a Senate member, which could work against it.

Should the Senate not put up any resistance, it’s possible that C-218 could be approved by June 25, the day the chamber adjourns for its summer break. However, even if it looks like approval is coming, Canada is going through a sensitive period regarding its political makeup at the highest levels. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could decide to cut off the legislative session early in favor of public elections, which would effectively end the bill’s run this year.

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