Sports betting in Canada is currently banned, but a simple amendment to the criminal code can legalize it. This is exactly what David Lametti, the Canadian Minister of Justice, wants to do.
Soon, sports fans in Canada can bet on their favorites like hockey and football without any legal setbacks or risks.
This follows the neighboring US, many of whose states have been legalizing sports betting slowly. In fact, the process for Canadian legalization should be much quicker and simpler than their neighboring country’s process.
There is some confusion around Canada’s gambling laws. They do explicitly state that sports betting is illegal, but there are workarounds though they mostly apply to state-owned operations.
For example, sports betting is legal when offered in conjunction with other legal gambling like the lottery. This is how Pro-Line operates in Canada. And even though sports betting is illegal, it doesn’t stop fans from betting on the side or through illegal means.
Illegal sports betting in Canada is in fact extremely popular and prevents the Canadian government from earning billions in revenue.
The Canadian Gaming Association estimates that over €9 billion is spent on illegal gambling per year in the country.
From watching the US legalize sports betting in some states, the Canadian government could see the benefits of amending their own laws. Not to mention the impact on gamblers' financial health.
Trustly’s launch in Canada earlier this year may also pave the way for a safer betting system, and one that the government could be quick to approve.
The CEO and President of the CGA, Paul Burns, outwardly expressed his support and approval of Lametti’s decision. It’s not surprising that the CGA supports the move, as they would also earn more in revenue and allow the same safety rules used for online casino gambling to apply to sports betting.
Burns seems to be looking at more than just revenue, though. He’s also arguing that legalizing sports betting in Canada can assuage the effects of the pandemic on other important sectors like tourism and gastronomy.
Though the arguments set forth by the CGA and Lametti are strong and encouraging, there is no real timeline for sports betting legalization in Canada.
As with Burns’ case, that legalization would help alleviate some of the downfalls from COVID, the pandemic also forced the government to focus heavily on other more pressing laws.
Canada, as with most other countries, is in a financial predicament. They may very well amend sports betting soon out of desperation.