Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting)

This bill was last introduced in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2019.


Brian Masse  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Defeated, as of Sept. 21, 2016
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment repeals paragraph 207(4)‍(b) of the Criminal Code to make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the province that involves betting on a race or fight or on a single sport event or athletic contest.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Sept. 21, 2016 Failed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:35 p.m.
See context


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

moved that Bill C-221, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill C-221, the safe and regulated sports betting act.

I served in the municipality of Windsor for two terms and have served in the House for six terms. One of the things I have noted as a member of Parliament and formerly as a city councillor is that we often have time, energy, and opportunity to vote about spending in these institutions, including this one. This bill would give us a chance to increase revenues by taking them away from organized crime and putting them into the coffers of the provinces, should they so choose.

I am talking about the underground economy, the organized crime economy, and that of offshore betting that is taking place for single event sports. It is common culture in Canada, North America, and across the globe, but it is not regulated here.

The bill is an opportunity to redirect to the provinces approximately $10 billion which is going to organized crime, and that is a modest estimation. There is another $4 billion from overseas accounts and betting that is unregulated. Some are seeking regulation. The provinces could use that money for health care, education, infrastructure, for public projects that we support. This would dismantle a significant, if not the most profound, basis of monetary support for organized crime.

That is what we are talking about in the bill. It is not just fun, not just jobs, not just the reality that is taking place in other jurisdictions at our expense; it is about taking away the capability of organized crime to affect our society.

The bill was formerly Bill C-290, which was brought forward by my colleague Mr. Joe Comartin, the former member for Windsor—Tecumseh and the former deputy speaker. That bill passed unanimously in the chamber. It went through this chamber, went to committee, came back from committee and went through this chamber again and on to the Senate. It made it to the Senate, but there just was not enough time to pass it into law. We have had to table the bill in the House again to make sure that we get the job done. It is my pleasure to do so.

Things have changed. When we look at illegal gaming globally, it is a $500-billion industry, half a trillion dollars, not only in North America, but also in China and other jurisdictions. It is a trough fund that often goes to organized crime or other businesses that are unregulated and unaccountable. We know taxes have been a big issue in this chamber over the last number of weeks. They are not necessarily paying the taxes that they should. It is important to know that.

Currently, Las Vegas has a monopoly on this product for North America. There is the Super Bowl and other jurisdictional betting that has been taking place. There are around 30 million visitors to that area. There are significant revenues coming from tourism on top of that. It is not just the actual wagering that is taking place, but it is the tourism as well.

The bill would protect our jobs and economy. We have 250,000 jobs directly or indirectly related to the gaming industry in Canada. We are talking about places like Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Windsor, Niagara, Montreal, Halifax, and Charlottetown. Some people think these are just entry level jobs, that they are not significant enough to look at. How more wrong could they be?

There are value-added trained jobs that require education from our colleges and our universities. There is web design. There are slot attendants, cashiers, and blackjack dealers in a casino, and also industries outside that which are related to tourism.

I apologize for my voice, Mr. Speaker, but I was coaching hockey this weekend and it is hard to get 11-year-olds and 13-year-olds off the ice. I would say to my colleagues that it is a lot of fun but it takes a lot of energy.

When we look at the sports information industry itself, we see online sports information, statisticians, odds-makers, journalists, web-tech supporters, and marketing. All those things are so important for our value-added economy. They are also jobs where people can actually have benefits, a salary, and contribute to a pension, something all of us in this House agree should happen. Often there are pensions that relate to the private sector, a growth sector where we need to have pensions for the sustainability of our economy.

This bill has a number of different elements which the provinces could choose if they wanted to. There is nothing in this bill that would make the provinces do anything. It is all about choice. Right now in the federal Criminal Code there is a prohibition to betting on a single event sport or games. To do that, people go to the underground economy, whether it be organized crime or other types of venues, or with the click of a mouse they can go offshore somewhere. Canadians, Americans, and people across this planet enjoy single wager sports.

All that revenue is lost, unaccounted for, and does not lead to the results we need as a country. With that type of revenue stream, we would also have accountability. Most important, we would have the reduction of crimes committed from this unregulated activity. In Canada, that is $10 billion in organized crime and nefarious betting. Offshore we are talking about $4 billion and we do not know where it goes. We take that element and create jobs that have taxable income, that pay benefits, that deliver pensions, that bring in tourism. It would ensure that the billions of dollars of infrastructure that we have in our gaming facilities would be protected.

This is coming to the United States. It is not just Nevada that has a toehold and is alone in this. There are others, like New Jersey, that are moving toward this target, and others will soon follow. There is no doubt about it. Coming from Windsor, I can say that we watched as the province twiddled its thumbs about building a new conference centre, and Detroit went ahead and did it and took our market share quite significantly. We still do well with a good brand, a good industry, and most important, great customer service that creates a number of jobs. However, if we do not do this, we will lose out. We will lose billions of taxpayer dollars in infrastructure. That is not smart.

When we think about having a regulated environment, it is not just somebody in a bar, in a back room, or a basement who collects these bets. We are talking about going to gaming authorities of the provinces that choose to do so where they have age controls. Right now, if people want to make a single sports bet in our country, does anyone think that organized crime, bookies, or agents are carding people to make sure they are 18 years of age? I do not think so. I do not think that is happening. They will prey on those who want to bet. With legalized regulated betting, there are age controls in place, sports security in place, monitoring of lines, and regular wager bets that take place. That is accountability. Gaming authorities across Canada are the largest contributors to player education programs and self-exclusion programs.

People can actually go to the websites of the provinces that regulate this and get face identification. That is important. If people want to opt out of gaming and tell the associations they want to be prohibited from entering into casinos or other betting venues, they are allowed to do that. They can do it in the privacy of their homes. It is a self-awareness protection program. There is staff training that takes place to ensure that does not happen.

The scope of criminal activity associated with organized crime is best detailed by a quote that I have by Detective Inspector L.D. Moodie, who spoke at a Gambling, Law Enforcement Systems Issues Conference. He stated:

Illegal gambling, while appearing to be a minor part of a Traditional Organized, is actually a foundation upon which most other illicit activities are supported. Illegal bookmaking, card dens and video gambling machines are Traditional Organized Crime's main source of revenue. Illegal gambling and related crimes such as loan sharking, money laundering and corruption provide working capital to invest in more legitimate enterprises, thereby strengthening their entire illicit operation.

They use that to transfer the funds to other operations, sometimes legal, sometimes not.

He further stated:

At least 8 murders have been committed in the Toronto area over the past 3 years that can be directly related to Organized Crime members dealing with the illegal gambling industry, whether by gambling debts or turf wars between the different Organized Crime Groups.

Plain and simple, there is a direct correlation. Do we allow this to simply happen, or do we take a stand here today and decide as members that we are not going to spend revenue on an issue. We get a lot of those bills, and that happens, which is a good thing, because they are good issues about changing Canada. That is not a criticism. However, in this unique case, we have found in all the evidence that we are simply shifting money away from organized crime and offshore accounts and putting it toward our public systems that are important.

By the way, the offshore accounts are not insignificant. If we were to google Canadian sports betting sites, does anyone know many hits we would get? We would get 530,000 hits for sports betting sites alone. On Canadian sports betting sites alone, we would get hits including Bodog, bet365, Pinnacle, and Betway.

Even more importantly, if we look at organizations, the NBA, for example, supports a regulated environment. It is saying it wants to be regulated to ensure that the quality of its product is not influenced by illegal factors. Knowing that this is the future, it wants to work with the government to do it. We could go to other sites, like the NHL site DraftKings. We could go on the NHL site right now and actually make a bet on the DraftKings website.

There have been major issues raised in the United States, other provinces, and other jurisdictions around the world that are now concerned with this unregulated environment that has no accountability. Forget about the Isle of Man, the Bahama issues, the Panama papers. We are talking about an annual stream of sports wagering that, if we do nothing, will continue to fester and undermine the intentions of the House and other provincial houses that are asking for this. They are asking for the right to do this. All we are doing is allowing that facilitation.

I do not understand. I can bet on three games in Ontario, which I will most likely lose, because with my betting skill that is usually what happens. I could bet on two games, which again would result in the same situation, I am sure. I can pretty well guarantee the success of an other team because I would pick the team that loses, on a single sports bet. That is, unfortunately, my history.

In all seriousness, it does not make any sense. It was borne from the frustration of dealing with problems from a time long past. Today we need to deal with reality, and that reality has been brought together.

In conclusion, because the bill does not require that money be spent but would create new revenue, it is supported by the Canadian Labour Congress and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. It is very unique, very real, and it would be very wise for us to move it forward.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Charlottetown P.E.I.


Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for the passion that he brings to this topic. I know it is extremely important to his riding. I was there for the debate in the last Parliament when Joe Comartin brought the bill in, which passed on a voice vote and then went to the Senate.

It encountered some considerable headwinds at the Senate. It actually went to committee for study, as my hon. colleague would know. The Senate heard from the NCAA, the National Hockey League, the National Football League, and the Toronto Blue Jays on behalf of major league baseball, all of whom expressed concerns that this would affect the integrity of the game.

In fairness, I would invite my colleague to speak to those concerns that were raised at the Senate committee. I fully expect that he is aware of them, and the House should be as well.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:50 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it would be great to have the Final Four in Canada. However, the NCAA is not really coming to our country, aside from a few exhibition games between colleges and universities that are not even sanctioned, so I would not give that much credibility in the sense that it is a product and a situation that is foreign to us. It would be like us having a sports team over here, an association, demanding something in the U.S. where it does not even play. That is one take on it.

I am glad my hon. colleague was here in the days of Joe Comartin, because he will know the history of this issue.

The NHL still has concerns. However, people can use their app to go to the NHL's website right now and bet on DraftKings.

With respect to the integrity of the game, historically there have been problems with some sporting issues. There is no doubt about that . However, those problems were reined in by the development of the association. Most importantly, it has important issues to deal with, such as concussions and accountability.

In the case of the NFL, it is the same issue. After a few games in Toronto, it was dealing with concussions as well, and other issues. However, it has its voice, another product that is not in our country.

Lastly, if the Toronto Blue Jays and major league baseball are okay in Vegas, why are they not okay here?

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, I commend the member on his efforts to get this bill through. I know it is the second time that he has had it in front of the House.

We just had a question asked about the National Hockey League. In the last year or so, we have been hearing about the potential expansion of the NHL, which I am really excited about. I am hoping it means we will have another team in Canada. Hopefully we will have an NHL team from Canada in the playoffs in the next season.

However, it appears that the city of Las Vegas is in the running right now. It looks as though it is very likely to get a National Hockey League team. Therefore, I ask the member what his views are on what the National Hockey League has had to say about this bill.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, probably one of the most important things to note that I have heard so far in this session is the member's statement with respect to getting a Canadian team back into the playoffs. We are all in remorse.

I sincerely thank the member for his question, because it is interesting that the NHL is allowing organizing and growth to take place in Las Vegas and at the same time saying no to Canadians for a product that it allows in the United States. That does not sound right.

As well, guess where a lot of the NHL awards are held? That would be in Vegas.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I also want to thank my friend from Windsor West for bringing this bill forward again. I thank Joe Comartin, a former colleague and a friend, for initially bringing it forward.

As someone who is essentially opposed to gambling and concerned about gambling addiction, it is is an entire educational experience for me to realize that there is an underground economy that is fuelling organized crime. I would ask my friend to comment on this, because there is a lot of literature on it. How does his bill—which I fully support, and I want to ensure that I say that while I have a chance—help us address the problem of gambling addictions when we are, in a sense, creating a legal form of single-event betting?

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

I appreciate that very important question, Mr. Speaker. There is a couple of ways we would tackle it.

If we go to offices, workshops, go online, or any place, there is usually some type of gaming going on. Sometimes it ends up being a single sport event. Look at the final four brackets that everyone has at work and all that kind of stuff. It leads to one event at the end of the day. Therefore, that is happening.

The studies show that we will shift revenue away from organized crime and put it toward a regulated market. In the regulated provincial markets there are avenues, money and support from the revenue that comes in to problem gaming. Therefore, problem gaming finally gets a revenue stream. I do not think anybody from organized crime is writing a cheque for problem gaming.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 5:55 p.m.
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Charlottetown P.E.I.


Sean Casey LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to contribute to the debate on Bill C-221, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to sports betting, sponsored by the member for Windsor West.

During my remarks, I will be highlighting the concerns I have with the proposed reforms. The government will be opposing the bill.

As Canadian law now stands, single-event sports betting is illegal. However, provinces and territories may offer another type of sports betting, known as parlay betting, to their residents. Parlay betting requires the bettor to correctly predict the outcome for a number of games in order to win. Parlay betting offers bettors an opportunity to participate in a legal and provincially or territorially controlled betting environment.

Single-event sports betting involves betting on the outcome of one single game, such as a game in the Stanley Cup finals. This private member's bill proposes to repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code, which prohibits betting on a single sporting event. If enacted, the amendment would allow a province or territory to offer this type of betting, if it chose to do so.

In Canada, provinces are responsible for operating, licensing, and regulating most legal forms of lottery schemes. Each province determines the types, amount, and location of this kind of gambling activity within the province. If single-event sports betting were permitted, each province would be left to determine how to implement this reform.

There are a whole host of issues that need to be considered when looking at legislative changes to the gambling provisions in the Criminal Code. The impact of Bill C-221 on issues such as match-fixing and problem gaming would be best examined in conjunction with provinces and territories, which would be responsible for single-event sports betting.

The amendment proposed in Bill C-221 may be familiar to many parliamentarians because the same reform was proposed in former private member's Bill C-290 and before that in former private member's Bill C-627, both of which were sponsored by Joe Comartin, the former member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

During debate and committee study of Bill C-290 in the Senate, senators and witnesses raised concerns with regard to the proposed reform. For example, the Senate Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights considered Bill C-290 in 2011, and it heard that the NCAA, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and the Toronto Blue Jays, on behalf of Major League Baseball, were all against this proposed reform.

The major concern for these leagues was that the proposed reform could affect the integrity of their games. The government shares these same concerns.

It is possible, as suggested by many sports leagues, that legalizing single-event sports betting could encourage gamblers to fix games, especially in areas where players do not earn a lot of money and may be more susceptible to bribes. The current parlay system of betting makes it unattractive to fix a game, because the only way to achieve a guaranteed payout would be to rig multiple events, which would be much more difficult to accomplish. Single-event sports betting would make a fraudster's task easier, since only one event would need to be fixed.

I believe it is very important to ensure that the integrity of the game is sedulously fostered, and I believe that we should oppose legislation that may significantly affect this integrity.

One of the sponsor's stated objectives is to stimulate the economy and to bring American consumers to Canada. The provinces and territories would stand to gain economic benefits from the proposed reform, but the question arises: at what cost and, specifically, at what social cost?

Studies suggest that 3% to 5% of Canadians are at risk for problem gambling, and 30% to 40% of gambling revenues come from that small percentage. In 2011, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto filed a letter with the Senate committee studying the former Bill C-290 and indicated that the empirical evidence in the field demonstrated that an increase in legal gambling opportunities could lead to an increase in problem gambling. The letter indicated a concern for sports betting in particular.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reported an Ontario study that found that people with incomes of less than $20,000 per year were the least likely to gamble. However when they did, they were more likely to experience problems than those in higher income brackets.

These statistics indicate that the cohort of Canadians in the lower income bracket who gamble are the most vulnerable for experiencing problem gambling issues.

As well, individuals who live at or below the poverty line have little or no disposable income to spend on gambling. The amount spent on gambling takes a bigger bite out of their monthly budget. For someone making $20,000, spending even $1,000 a year on gambling is a very significant percentage of their disposable income.

Opposing this bill means protecting our most vulnerable citizens.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health also demonstrated that people, now patrons of illegal bookmakers, would likely continue to do so because of easy access to credit, convenience, and better odds.

The suggestion that this reform would be funnelling money away from organized crime and redirecting it into provincial coffers is clearly not strong enough to rationalize supporting the bill. In short, this proposed reform would bring about more gambling and would contribute to the many ills in society brought about by problem gambling.

While I appreciate that many would see these changes as a welcome way to stimulate the economy and to fund provincial activities, I do not believe that it should be supported. As such, I would ask members to join me in opposing this private member's bill.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 6:05 p.m.
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Gord Brown Conservative Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today in support of Bill C-221 in the name of the New Democratic member for Windsor West. I want to congratulate him on all of his efforts to try to get the bill passed.

First, the Conservative Party will allow a free vote of its members on the bill, and I would hope the government would reconsider this opportunity to let its members have a free vote on this as well.

I would like to lay out the reasons for my support for the bill.

First, in Canada, sports betting is only legal through parlay betting over a series of three games on what the outcome of those three games would be, which we have heard already tonight. It is not a great leap to shift from parlay betting to single sports betting.

Tourism in Canada has been on the decline. The legalization of single sports betting would give us the competitive edge that we need to bring some tourism back to Canada, especially along the border with the United States.

In my riding of Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, well over a decade ago there was a great debate that raged about allowing a casino to set up somewhere in the Thousand Islands region. After a great debate and a number of plebiscites in the municipalities, a casino was established on the boundary between the town of Gananoque and what is now the township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands.

At the time, many detractors were talking about the evils of gaming. However, at that particular casino, very little of the fears of the detractors have been realized. In fact, on the contrary, the casino has become a significant tourist anchor. Furthermore, it has contributed literally millions of dollars to the tax base of the municipalities, as well as direct payments to those municipalities, and it has helped boost other businesses in the region.

Therefore, with the new avenue of gaming, Canadian casinos would have a product that many of the those in the United States do not have. We have heard that it has been available for many years in Las Vegas. This would give us the upper hand on competing casinos right across the border and take back the traffic that Canadian casinos originally had.

Currently, as I said, this form of betting is only legal in one state, which is in the state of Nevada. Why should Nevada have a monopoly on this?

The legalization of single sports betting gives us the opportunity to attract more Americans to Canadian casinos, taking advantage of our proximity in comparison to the state of Nevada. It would not only give us the ability to compete with Nevada for its tourism and casino traffic, but it would put us in a strong position to grow both our industry and our economy.

Not only would the legislation before us be beneficial for the Canadian tourism industry, it would also be mutually beneficial for our economy.

We have recently seen in Nevada the mass tourism for the Super Bowl. They were not there for the Super Bowl game in Nevada; they were there to bet on that game. Nevada prepared for at least 200,000 extra visitors than it usually would have had. There was about $90 million that was spent betting on the game, and $150 million spent in Las Vegas on miscellaneous industries.

This one event generated mass amounts of revenue for communities. With our geographic close proximity to the United States, I have no doubt we would be able to reap those economic benefits.

Recently, I read a case study that was done by the Canadian Gaming Association on towns such as Niagara Falls, which would be heavily impacted by the proposed legislation of single sports betting. What the association found was that although single sports betting did produce revenue, the greatest increase in revenue was in the hospitality sector and entertainment industries due to the increased volume of tourists in the area.

Therefore, single sports betting would not just generate more financial flow within the casinos or betting pools, but it would have greater financial implications that could benefit the whole economy. Imagine the opportunities that could open up for Canadian cities such as Niagara Falls if the legislation is passed.

It is increasingly important that we work to better our economy in every possible way. Not only would single-event sports betting generate greater income in our tourism and gaming towns, it would also open up greater job opportunities for the people who live there.

As we are all aware, unemployment has risen this past year to about 7.3% in Canada. Creating more jobs in Canada would be very beneficial for all of us.

The Canadian gaming industry currently employs close to four million people, already having a significant impact on the economy. With the opening of single event betting, the increased traffic would allow for casinos to employ more staff. In Niagara Falls alone, it could create more than 200 jobs. That means 200 more people who would have security, and 200 more people who would not have to struggle to survive. Not only would 200 more people be employed, which in itself is already beneficial, it is 200 people in one area.

The availability of more jobs in every major town that would facilitate single event sports betting would give us the means necessary to strong arm the current high unemployment rate and substantially lower it. The reality of the situation is that while single game betting is illegal in Canada, it is still happening, as we have already heard this evening, through offshore gaming or through the black market.

Through offshore or illegal bookmaking operations, the single events sports underground market generates as much as $14 billion a year in Canada. Instead of this large market going off radar, we would make it both legal and regulated provincially. Passing the bill would mean that the provinces could tap into money that is currently being spent illegally, and use it provincially to support social programs as they see fit.

Niagara Falls is estimated to make a net profit of between $9 million and $12 million each year. Imagine what that money could do in a community such as Niagara Falls.

The bill is not a question of whether or not single sports betting will automatically become illegal. Instead, it will follow suit and give the provinces the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to legalize it. Due to the economic advantages of job employment and increased tourism revenue, it is necessary that the provinces have the opportunity to decide for themselves whether this is something they want to support.

The bill has passed the House before, until it was stuck in the Senate. Sports betting is already legal in Canada. It would be wise to further the scope of that legality. I would ask members to vote yes again, taking note of the vast economic growth both in the tourism or employment sectors that could occur in Canada through its passing.

I leave members with the words of the mayor of Niagara Falls, “Whatever your opinion is on [single sports betting], it's happening and it's happening online or in Las Vegas.”

Let us keep these billions of dollars in Canada by making it work legally here.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 6:10 p.m.
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Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak today on behalf of the bill and convince members of its recognized merits. I do believe it is very important at this time for me to also acknowledge my predecessor in Windsor—Tecumseh, Joe Comartin, who provided me with a lot of history that I think will help members put it in perspective as well.

This is a concise bill that is simply the repeal of one very brief section of the Criminal Code. In effect, it would allow for sports betting on single sporting events in this country, in provinces that choose to allow it.

There are two reasons for my pushing for this change and for the widespread support that this has garnered. One is the economic development tool, as has been mentioned. It would provide communities with revenue, particularly those communities with existing casinos or race tracks and other gaming operations.

We have heard from some provinces, as they are the ones responsible for deploying this tool, that they would be placing the operations in those centres, some more broadly and others on a more limited scale.

We had a study done by the Canadian Gaming Association two summers ago, and it showed, for instance, that it would secure 150 to 200 new jobs in my region of Windsor, which has a very substantial commercial casino, Caesars Windsor. The same is true for the casino in Niagara. I mention these two casinos because they are immediately adjacent to the American border and a number of bets would be placed by our American neighbours, because this practice is illegal in the United States, with the exception of Nevada. I will get to that later.

It would be a good economic tool that would draw tourism and gaming dollars from the United States and potentially from other parts of the world, depending on how it were deployed.

The other major reason that was the impetus for this initiative is that this type of gaming is going on now, but it is almost exclusively offshore, and in Canada it is completely controlled by and is a major revenue source for organized crime.

We have estimates of billions of dollars being gamed in Canada and tens of billions of dollars in the United States because it is illegal there. This legislation would strike a blow against organized crime by taking revenue away from it.

One of the major tools the government can deploy to fight organized crime is to take away financial incentives. This legislation would help us do that. It is a very important bill from this perspective. That industry is very big and it is entirely controlled by organized crime at the present time, both here and in the United States, because it is generally illegal in the United States to bet on one sporting event.

The estimate in the United States is that $30 billion a year is bet on that, all going into the pockets of organized crime and some of it offshore. It is estimated that as much as $2 billion is spent in Canada annually.

With all of that money going out of the country to organized crime syndicates in the United States and the Caribbean, we can see just from those figures that it is important that we move on this.

The other thing is that there is a national gaming association in Canada, and a couple of years ago it completed a study that showed the employment that would be created by making this into a legal business. For instance, in Windsor, there would be another 150 jobs directly secured for current employment at the casino in Windsor.

In the riding of the Minister of Justice there is a casino, and a similar number of jobs would either be saved or added and thus secured in this job creation.

The stakeholder support for this legislation is broad in both the public sector and the private sector. The legislation has support from provincial and municipal governments across Canada, as well as unanimous support from the chamber of commerce community and Canadian labour councils.

In addition, businesses and organizations operating in the tourism sector have expressed support, as well as firms in the so-called grey market, which is the legitimate multinational sport betting operations catering to Canadian clients on the Internet, who want to operate in a clearly defined and regulated environment.

I would also note, as my colleague from Windsor West has discussed, that this legislation has support from the law enforcement community. It is generally recognized as a safe, legal, and regulated environment around this activity that will detrimentally impact organized crime by significantly reducing its revenues from illegal wagering by providing customers with a legal option.

The previous legislation was originally opposed by all four major sports organizations in North America, the NBA, NHL, NFL, the MLB. However, since 2011, the NBA has completely changed its position on single-event sports wagering and the NHL is increasingly becoming involved in gambling after announcing a formal partnership with a major online fantasy sports wagering operation, DraftKings. In short, the leagues are coming to the realization that sports wagering can be an asset to their business and they are beginning to alter their position.

What is the best thing about the bill? It costs the government nothing and it generates considerable revenue for the province, which regulates the practice and puts funding in the coffers for adequate treatment. From this perspective, it is a safe bet indeed.

It is important to set the bill within a historical context, and I take this history from the esteemed member who held my riding, Joe Comartin, prior to the 2015 election.

If we go back and study this closely, the laws on gaming in our country go back to the 1600s in England. I believe Charles I was King at the time. It was a period of time when he was very worried about the military gambling excessively. Laws were passed in Westminster to prohibit all gambling in the country.

Over the centuries, we have eroded that position. In fact, to follow the history in my riding, my predecessor, who is the immediate predecessor of Joe Comartin, the late Shaughnessy Cohen, moved a similar amendment to the Criminal Code that allowed for betting at roulette tables, which was prohibited at the time. It allowed for roulette tables to come into casinos across the country.

Following in that tradition, this is one of those periods of time when we should have our criminal law catch up to the reality of what is happening in our society.

In 1985, the federal government effectively gave up the administration of gaming operations to the provinces. It was one of those periods of time when there were some trade-offs going on with regard to revenue sources. This was a mechanism for the federal government to create new revenue sources for the provinces.

Since that time, a number of provinces have moved into gaming in a variety of ways: lotteries, casinos, additional betting being allowed at racetracks, and the list goes on.

Allow me to recap the reasons for supporting the bill. It would be a blow against organized crime. It would be a potential creator of good jobs for our economy. It would move additional revenue into the hands of the provinces that chose to allow single-event sports betting now that it would no longer a criminal act. It is a very simple amendment that does not require a great deal of effort to understand. I would encourage all members of the House to reconsider and support the bill.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 6:20 p.m.
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Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to speak to Bill C-221 today, an act to amend the Criminal Code. This bill would modernize the Criminal Code by allowing provinces to properly regulate sports betting. If single event sports wagering were permitted, each province would therefore determine if and how it would be implemented.

The Canadian Criminal Code, which is enacted by the Parliament of Canada, sets out the parameters of legal gaming in Canada. However, since 1985, as a result of a federal-provincial agreement, the federal government has given up its right to conduct lottery schemes. Sports wagering is defined as lottery schemes in the Criminal Code and explicitly prohibits provinces from allowing wagering on any race or fight, or on a single sports event or athletic contest. This bill calls for the deletion of this section of the Criminal Code.

The bill would help modernize the Criminal Code to recognize the jurisdictional responsibility and reality of gaming throughout the country. If provinces were able to provide a legal, regulated sports wagering product, the economic impact would be significant, particularly for communities with casinos. A recent report by the Canadian Gaming Association on the impact of sports wagering on Ontario border casinos highlighted the benefits of offering a legal, regulated sports wagering product in the Ontario border casinos of Windsor and Niagara Falls.

Another thing that Bill C-221 would allow us to do would be to reduce the influence of organized crime. Illegal sports wagering includes both illegal bookmakers and illegal Internet betting companies operating within North America. While the exact size of the illegal bookmaking market is not certain, published reports by government and law enforcement officials suggest it is substantial. For example, based on a review of the annual reports of the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada, bookmaking exists in every region of Canada. According to the reports, gaming profits provide revenue to organized crime groups to fund their illegal and legal activities.

Once more, while the size of the illegal bookmaking market in Canada is unknown, it is thought to be significant. It has been estimated that Canadians illegally wager between $14 billion and $15 billion annually on single sporting events. Bill C-221 would allow the provinces to police this unregulated market, and in so doing return the economic benefits to our communities and reduce the influence of organized crime. It would afford the opportunity for bettors using illegal systems to use the safety, security, and surety of the government regulated betting regime.

I would like to mention that much support has been expressed for Bill C-221. Many validators, such as municipalities, associations, and corporations, have already supported this bill. Among those, there is the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, the municipality of Windsor, the Attorneys General of Ontario and British Columbia, and the Canadian Gaming Association.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 6:25 p.m.
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Matthew Dubé NDP Beloeil—Chambly, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will begin my speech by thanking my colleagues who worked so hard on this bill.

I would like to start by thanking the member for Windsor West for the work he has done on this bill, not only in this Parliament but in the previous Parliament, and also my colleague from Windsor—Tecumseh, and her predecessor, Joe Comartin, who worked very hard on this bill as well in the previous Parliament.

This bill is very important because it seeks to modernize the situation. Gambling is currently a provincial jurisdiction. We know that and this bill does not take away from that. However, the regulations need to be modernized. I appreciate this bill because it essentially seeks to establish regulations to help reduce, if not eliminate, the influence of organized crime.

This is not necessarily an issue that affects my riding. We do not have a casino. However, I know that my colleagues in Windsor have experienced this situation. Their expertise and that of the stakeholders who support our position illustrate the need to adopt new regulations and update the statutes governing gambling in Canada, in order to eliminate the influence of organized crime. That is the most important thing.

However, I cannot talk about this bill without raising an absurd situation that affects the work of parliamentarians here in Ottawa. I am referring to the fact that the Senate again delayed the study of a bill that then died on the order paper when the election was called. That is what happened to the bill we are debating today.

We believe that the Senate's undemocratic action impacted a private member's bill. The same thing happened to Jack Layton's bill on climate change. The House passed the bill, but the Senate failed to pass it by one vote.

No matter what an MP may think of the bill put forward by my colleague from Windsor West, it is absurd that in the 21st century, in a democracy, some senators can delay the study in committee of a bill passed by the House of Commons to the point where it would die on the order paper. They did not even get around to the vote.

That is why my colleague from Windsor West has to once again introduce the same bill after a federal election. Furthermore, it seems that government members are going to oppose it. The work done by a previous Parliament has unfortunately been undone by an undemocratic institution.

Many stakeholders in the sports community are interested in this issue. When the various sports leagues express their views, we need to understand their interests and their motivations. Of course, they like the existing regulations. However, the regulation proposed by my colleague in this new bill does not seek to make an existing problem worse. This is not a new bill. Once again, it could have been passed before if the Senate had done its job during the 41st Parliament.

Under the existing law, a person can bet only on a single sport event. The bill proposes to increase that number to three, which would reduce the influence of organized crime on gaming in Canada. If this was not the right approach, we would not have stakeholders' support on this.

When we got to the Senate, we encountered a problem. We appeared before the committee and nothing was certain. Senators were asking questions. I will admit that that is understandable and that those questions needed to be asked. Senators had to be given the opportunity to understand where we stood on this issue and what action needed to be taken. They wanted to understand the existing regulations and how the bill would change them.

That is a problem because we had stakeholders who supported the bill. Members passed the bill, and we tried to present an informed position on the subject. I commend my colleague from Windsor for trying again and pushing ahead on this issue, which is supported by the municipality of Windsor. The municipality indicated that it was in favour of the bill, as did the various gaming commissions, and not just in Ontario. Other provinces, such as Saskatchewan, were on board. My colleague just talked about it. It is very important to keep all that in mind when we are considering the situation that is currently before us.

I am really disappointed that the government is now saying it will oppose this bill. Maybe it is just me, but I did not hear a lot of opposition to this from the Liberal Party during the previous Parliament. Now the Liberals seem to have changed their mind, but they cannot really explain why.

Members from a region have put forward a bill that has the support of the municipality they represent and various provincial gaming commissions that regulate gaming. As I said at the outset, this is ultimately a provincial responsibility. When all of these stakeholders have reached a consensus on the bill and understand that we need legislation to make a necessary change, we are entitled to ask some questions.

The Senate took its sweet time, and then the election was called and the bill disappeared from the order paper. The Senate did its job, and now my colleague has to introduce the same bill all over again. During the previous Parliament, the government's party did not have a lot to say. Actually, it said nothing against this bill. Now it says it will oppose the bill. I find that so disappointing.

I must admit, I am getting to know the Windsor area. I do not know as much about it as I would like, but I have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my colleague from Windsor West discussing this bill. I really understand the positive impact this bill can have in terms of eliminating the influence of organized crime on gambling in Canada. For that reason alone, the bill deserves our support.

I hope that the government will have the chance to reconsider its position. Finally, I would remind backbenchers that they are free to vote their conscience on private members' bills. I hope that this plea will reassure them, and that when the time comes to vote on this bill, they will not tow the party line but adopt the common sense approach proposed by my colleague from Windsor West.

I see that I am out of time. I will end there.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 19th, 2016 / 6:35 p.m.
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The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

If the hon. member for Beloeil—Chambly wishes, he will have one more minute for his speech when the House resumes debate on this motion.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired. The order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActStatements By Members

June 16th, 2016 / 2 p.m.
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Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, later today my Bill C-221 will be debated in the House of Commons for the second time before going to a vote. I would like to thank the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his support for this bill.

This bill would allow single-event sports betting, which is critical for the Canadian economy. Most important, it would take away $14 billion of money to organized crime and unregulated offshore betting taking place right now in a market that induces our youth. The money it supplies to organized crime can be rerouted to public infrastructure, health care, education, gaming addiction, and a number of different priorities that Canadians want.

Sports analysts across the world are coming to the conclusion that regulation is necessary for this activity. This bill, to be clear, would allow the provinces to do this if they so choose. It would not make them do anything. Why would Liberals be opposed to the province of Ontario? Are they listening anymore?

The House resumed from April 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-221, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), be read the second time and referred to a committee.