On February 17, 2021, Bill C-218 attempting to decriminalize sports betting for individual events in Canada passed the second reading in the House of Commons by 303 votes to 15.
Bill C-218 is a private member bill introduced by Saskatoon-Grasswood Conservative MP Kevin Waugh. The bill was first introduced on February 25, 2020 and is detailed in our Blakes Bulletin of March 2020: Sports Betting for Individual Events: Will Bill C-218 Find Its Way Through Parliament? Some would like to bet on it.
Bill C-218 is now referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights of the House of Commons for further investigation. From there, it must pass a third reading in the House of Commons before being submitted to the Senate for approval.
The federal government recently introduced Bill C-13, which, like Bill C-218, seeks to decriminalize sports betting for individual events. Bill C-13 is described in our November 2020 Blakes Bulletin: Good Odds Single bets on single events will soon be legal in Canada.
Both bills aim to amend Section 207 (4) (B) of the Criminal Code in order to lift the existing ban on betting on the outcome of a single sporting event, but aim to bring about the change in a slightly different way.
Section 207 (4) of the Criminal Code defines permissible lottery systems. Section 207 (4) paragraph (b) specifically excludes certain activities from the definition of an eligible lottery system.
The provision is currently as follows:
(b) bookmaking, pool sales, or the placing or recording of bets, including bets placed through the agency of a pool or pari-mutuel system, on a race or match, or on an individual sporting event or competition;
Draft Law C-218, the private member's draft law, aims to completely repeal Section 207 (4) (B) of the Criminal Code, while Draft C-13 (b) aims to revise the reference to “any race or delete every fight "or in a single sporting event or sporting competition" while adding "every horse race" at the end of the provision. In terms of impact, both bills would decriminalize sports betting for individual events, but have different effects on horse racing. Government-backed Bill C-13 would maintain Canada's current pari-mutuel betting system on horse racing, while Bill C-218 may also open betting on horse racing.
With Bill C-218 passing its second reading and Bill C-13 expected to enter second reading shortly, the Canadian market looks to see a dramatic (at least in terms of legislative process) end of the decade efforts to get the criminal code repeal for good Sports betting at individual events. All in all, government bills are generally becoming more lawful than private member bills in general, but by Bill C-13 it's second reading it's everyone's game.
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