Sportsbetting Bill Tests Relationship between Canada’s Houses of Government

Written By Janice Doughtrey

Canada’s sportsbetting bill has turned into a battle between Canada’s two houses of Parliament.  Tabled in the House of Commons by NDP MP Joe Comartin from Windsor, Ontario, the bill will amend Canada’s gambling laws to legally allow single game bets.  If this law is passed, Canadians will be able to legally place wagers on the Superbowl or important hockey games without having to fill the ballot with multiple wagers.  However, where the odds were once in favour of the bill’s passing, it now appears the bill will be defeated in the Senate.

Expert gaming analysts, casinos, law enforcement officials, and a majority of provinces have voiced their support for the amended bill.  Several testimonies have suggested Canadians place single bets regardless of the law because online sportsbetting sites operating outside of Canada provide this option.  This is the very core of the argument Comartin and fellow supporters have made, that Canada’s sportsbetting laws are outdated with modern technology and amendments need to be made.  Comartin says money placed on sites operating out of Canada is better spent in Canada, which requires amended sportsbetting laws.

The bill was voted on and received unanimous support in the House of Commons, passing on upwards to the Senate.  However, several roadblocks in the Senate may cause this bill to be defeated.  If the bill is rejected, it will be the first time in history the unelected upper chamber has killed a bill that has unanimously been approved by Canada’s elected House of Commons.

Several senators have been reportedly influenced by major opposition from North America’s major sports leagues.  Jacque Demers, a former NHL head coach who led the Montreal Canadiens to their most recent Stanley Cup victory, says his vote will be the toughest decision he has made in the Senate.

“I’ve always told my players it was extremely important to not have any people around talking about betting and these situations.”

With several Senators planning to vote against the bill, leaders in the House of Commons are meeting with their respective Senate caucuses to try and bring votes back onside with the bill.  This vote could be historic in forever changing the relationship between Canada’s two houses of Parliament.