An Act to amend the Criminal Code (single event sport betting)

This bill was last introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2021.


David Lametti  Liberal


Second reading (House), as of Nov. 26, 2020
(This bill did not become law.)


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

This enactment amends paragraph 207(4)‍(b) of the Criminal Code to make it lawful for the government of a province or territory, or a licensed person or entity, to conduct and manage in the province or territory a lottery scheme that involves betting on a race — other than a horse-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.

Safe and Regulated Sports Betting ActPrivate Members' Business

April 22nd, 2021 / 6:25 p.m.
See context


Christine Normandin Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-218.

I had the privilege of listening to my colleague from Saskatoon—Grasswood when the bill was introduced and during the first round of speeches. I found his remarks very informative. I am taking the opportunity to speak today, but I do not pretend in any way that I will be able to teach the House as much he did.

Bill C-218 is actually quite simple. It consists of three clauses: one for the title of the act, one for its coming into force and one that proposes to replace a Criminal Code paragraph that currently excludes, from the definition of lottery, “bookmaking, pool selling or the making or recording of bets, including bets made through the agency of a pool or pari-mutuel system, on any race or fight, or on a single sporting event or athletic contest”. This would in effect decriminalize what is known as single event betting, which usually involves sporting events.

This bill kind of reminds me of a cat, not because it winds up sleeping on a shelf like a cat, which is what sometimes happens to certain committee recommendations that certain governments shelve, but because it has had several lives, as some of my colleagues mentioned earlier.

During the 40th Parliament, NDP MP Joe Comartin's Bill C-267 was never called for debate, unfortunately. During the 41st Parliament, NDP MP Joe Comartin once again introduced the bill, this time as Bill C-290, and it progressed a little farther and was passed at third reading without a recorded division. Back then, the current member for Winnipeg North spoke on behalf of the Liberal Party. Bill C-290 then died in the Senate.

During the 42nd Parliament, the NDP member for Windsor West introduced the bill. Unfortunately, it was defeated at second reading by Liberal and Conservative votes. The Bloc Québécois, on the other hand, voted unanimously in favour of the bill.

At the time, one of the arguments for killing this bill was that decriminalizing single sports betting might lead to cheating. That is like saying that leaving sports betting in the hands of organized crime would ensure that cheating does not happen. It is a weak argument, to say the least. Criminalizing something does not make it disappear. It just drives it underground. That is why this bill seeks to take sports betting out of the hands of organized crime.

In the 43rd Parliament, that version of the bill was passed at second reading with only 15 votes against it. Given that the government has introduced Bill C-13, which is substantively similar to this bill, we can expect Bill C-218 to make it to the Senate this time.

There are several advantages to decriminalizing single sports betting. One is that it would protect gamblers. Allowing the mafia to control sports betting opens the door to things like loansharking.

I will echo my colleagues who mentioned the case of the young man in Laval who ended his life in December 2019. He was only 18. The coroner's inquest showed that the man's suicide was tied to an $80,000 debt that he racked up on the Internet, on a gambling site that was run by the Montreal mafia.

According to an article written at the time, the young man gambled online. To access the site, users entered their name and password on the homepage, at which point they could bet on the results of all sorts of professional sporting events, and even on the results of the U.S. presidential election.

According to our research, the name of the site is registered to a corporation in Panama. This site has been hosted on a server in Costa Rica since March 2015 but did not become active until a year later. Using network management tool, we can see that the corporation that owns the server hosts roughly 75 other online gambling sites. The site ranks 58th in number of visitors with roughly 200 daily visitors. We learned that the Montreal mafia's sports betting was run by a manager and working under him is an assistant and some bookies, in other words, recruiters. The bookies are responsible for the gamblers they recruit. The interest rate for paying off debt climbs by 3% to 5% per week. We are talking about mafia control and loan sharking. In this case, we are talking about people who lost their home because of online sports betting. What is more, there is no way to protect minors, who can easily access these sites.

If the ownership of these sites could be publicly disclosed, particularly by Crown corporations like Loto-Québec, it would mean that we could also expect more money to be injected into the fight against pathological gambling. Crown corporations also contribute in other ways. They give back to society. For example, Loto-Québec sponsors many events, owns and acquires public assets, and funds cultural events. Society will therefore benefit if we take sports betting out of the hands of organized crime.

Another advantage is that we would be be taking money away from organized crime. During an investigation conducted in Quebec as part of Operation Colisée, an expert estimated that, between December 2004 and December 2005, the Rizzuto clan took in approximately $27 million a year from illegal sports betting. We can expect that amount to be even higher now. By taking this revenue away from organized crime, we would be preventing criminals from diversifying their operations. For example, after a major drug seizure, organized crime can turn to illegal betting to survive. By cutting off this source of income, we are hurting organized crime.

Another advantage that my colleagues have mentioned is that governments could see an increase in revenue from decriminalizing single sports betting. Deloitte has pointed out that within five years of decriminalization, Canada's revenues could go from $500 million to as much as $28 billion, which is a handsome sum.

In the U.S., the industry grew after our neighbours to the south legalized it in response to Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Assn. More than 25 U.S. states now allow sports betting.

Decriminalization could lead to competition. For example, the casinos in Detroit, Michigan, would be in direct competition with those in the riding of the member for Windsor West. Quebec would be no exception, since New York state has legalized sports betting. Gambling establishments in Plattsburgh, which is less than 90 minutes from the U.S. border, could end up competing with Loto-Québec once the border reopens.

In conclusion, beyond all these advantages, we must not forget the gamblers themselves. In talking with my colleagues, I realize that there is interest in sports betting. Many of my colleagues would very likely be happy to be able to make bets legally, if they could do so without contributing to companies that send their income to tax havens without paying tax. Lastly, they could place bets using French-language platforms.

For all these good reasons, the Bloc Québécois will be pleased to support Bill C-218. We hope that this time, the cat will not have to use up its nine lives.

March 25th, 2021 / 12:40 p.m.
See context


Vance Badawey Liberal Niagara Centre, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair, for the opportunity, and thank you to committee members.

The effect of this amendment would be to render it identical, in effect, to Bill C-13. Like Bill C-13, this amendment to Bill C-218 would ensure that the parimutuel system of betting used by the horse-racing industry across this country would remain under the regulation of the federal Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency.

Given the testimony we have heard from the horse-racing industry, stakeholders and the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I believe it is in the best interests of the horse-racing industry to maintain the regulatory status quo. The horse-racing industry's primary source of revenue is wagering through the parimutuel system of betting. We must move to protect this revenue stream for the benefit of approximately 50,000 jobs across Canada.

While this amendment does not address the issue of historical horse racing, as raised in testimony by a number of witnesses, I do believe, Madam Chair, that it is an appropriate amendment and that, in fact, it fits within the scope of Bill C-218.

With that, Madam Chair, I will be voting to support this amendment.

Thank you.

March 23rd, 2021 / 12:40 p.m.
See context

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Score Media and Gaming Inc.

John Levy

Your question makes an important point. Hopefully, there's no confusion about this.

We support an amendment to Bill C-218 so it basically follows the same approach as Bill C-13, which as written, did have protection for the horse-racing industry. My understanding is that the racing industry is fully supportive of this amendment. You could go into the specific details of it, but without going into the details, it basically protects racing to be able to operate and conduct racing the way they always have, and it didn't get caught up in Bill C-218 with an unintended consequence. It's an amendment to Bill C-218 to bring it in line with what was originally proposed for Bill C-13, which is favourable to the horsemen, and which the horsemen are in favour of and are supporting.

The second element they're talking about, which is historical racing, is an additional amendment. Quite frankly, I don't know what historical racing is. I think there were some comments.... I'm a horseman, too. I know Bill and Sandy directly. I think that may work or not, but it certainly should be debated at some future time.

For now, I think the amendment we are proposing and that's being fully supported by everybody is to bring Bill C-218 to look like Bill C-13. Get it passed. Let everybody win, having betting be a part of a licence agreement impacted by it.

March 23rd, 2021 / 12:40 p.m.
See context


Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I thank the witnesses for being here today. It is always important to have different perspectives on important issues like this.

My first question is for Mr. Levy. I understand from your testimony, Mr. Levy, that you believe that Bill C-218 is a good bill, but that ultimately it should be Bill C-13, since you say that horse racing should be excluded from this authorization. I clearly understood your testimony on that.

I would like to know the reason why, in your opinion, horse racing should be excluded from Bill C-218.

March 23rd, 2021 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Score Media and Gaming Inc.

John Levy

Madam Chair, first of all, thank you for providing me with an opportunity to articulate our full support for Bill C-218 and the legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada.

I'm proud to appear before you today on behalf of theScore, a Canadian innovation success story and third-generation family business. Following in the footsteps of my father, who is a pioneer in the Canadian cable television industry, we have built theScore into a North American leader in sports media, betting and e-sports. Utilizing a technology-led, mobile-first strategy, theScore has become one of the most popular sports media apps in North America. We then capitalized on the emerging regulated sports betting opportunity in the United States and launched an innovative mobile sports book operation that is now licensed in multiple jurisdictions.

In September 2019, we debuted theScore Bet, making history by becoming the first media company to create and operate a mobile sports book in the United States, and theScore Bet is now live in four states with a growing footprint and user base. Our early entry into regulated sports betting has positioned us at the forefront of the robust industry and led to significant growth of our company. In two years our workforce has increased by more than 50% and we're actively hiring at an accelerated pace to support the rapid expansion of our sports book operation.

Canada is now poised to usher in this vibrant industry that has potential to be transformative to our economy. Sports betting has flourished in the U.S. since legalization in 2018. It's created thousands of jobs, generated additional advertising revenue for sports media platforms and sponsorship revenue for teams and leagues, and produced significant tax proceeds for the states where it's legal, all providing a highly regulated system for fans to feel comfortable placing bets on the teams and sports they love. It's clear that a similar thoughtful and modernized legal wagering framework would benefit all Canadians.

The essential component of the public policy conversation around this bill is underscored by quoting the bill's name in full: Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act. Unregulated and illegal sports gambling is rampant across our country and offers no consumer protections or tax revenues for the provinces. Sports wagering needs to be monitored and regulated with comprehensive oversight to protect the consumers.

Bill C-218 will allow the provinces to implement necessary consumer safeguards to provide for a safe and responsible sports wagering environment. These have been established by provincial and territorial governments for other forms of wagering over decades. Single event sports betting will seamlessly integrate within these regulatory frameworks already in place.

We urge the House of Commons and the Senate to pass Bill C-218 as quickly as possible. In connection with the legalization of single event sports wagering, we acknowledge the need for the horse-racing industry to be safeguarded. We note that Bill C-13, the government version of this legislation, contained language to properly address this issue, and we support an amendment to Bill C-218 that would replicate the approach of Bill C-13, thereby ensuring that the interests of the horse racing industry are protected.

Time is of the essence with the passing of this bill. These gaming revenues represent a significant boost to a recovering economy by incenting job creation and regional economic development in many communities that will see direct and immediate benefits. Until the bill is passed, consumers will continue to remain exposed as they engage with unregulated outfits. There is now widespread industry and clear cross-party support to amend this outdated federal law, and it's time we seize this opportunity.

I thank the members of the committee for their consideration and thoughtful deliberation of this bill and the opportunity to provide my perspective and recommendation.

Members of the committee, thank you very much.

March 23rd, 2021 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Dave Drew Finance Committee Member, Central Ontario Standardbred Association

Thank you and good afternoon.

I want to point out that Bill O'Donnell is one of the top drivers in North America. He was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame both in Canada and in the United States, and also inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. He has been tireless in his efforts and continues to work full time on improving racing.

In support of having legalized and regulated single sports wagering, and in order to help protect the livelihoods of approximately 50,000 Canadians who are involved in and contributing $5.6 billion to our economy every year, we are recommending two small but very important changes to Bill C-218.

A key to protecting horse racing is ensuring that provincial governments and those contracted to provide single sports wagering pay their fair and appropriate share to the horse-racing industry for the costs of breeding, raising horses, training horses and conducting races.

Currently horse racing is fully regulated and is very much integrated between the racetracks, owners, trainers, jockeys and drivers. The wagering dollars are a very significant piece of supporting horse racing by first helping support funding. The current illegal betting that is happening on horse races prevents us from earning a large piece of that revenue, so we do not want to see additional organizations set up that could put as their portfolio the racing of horses without having to support the integrated portion of that, which involves the costs of putting on races, the costs of breeding, etc.

The answer to that element is embedded in a November 26, 2020, government bill, Bill C-13. That provided a solution under paragraph 207(4)(b). The amendment that is recommended is as follows:

(b) bookmaking, pool selling or the making or recording of bets, including bets made through the agency of a pool or pari-mutuel system, on any horse-race; or

That includes an exemption for horse racing so that others cannot simply add horse racing onto their portfolio. It would be excluded from fixed-odds single sports wagering but would continue on under the regulated current system.

The second small but important change would be to provide historic horse racing as a parimutuel wagering product whereby people can wager on the outcome of horse races that have been held in the past. This has been implemented in Kentucky. It's been implemented in Virginia, and it has provided sources of parimutuel wagering, which help support the current horse racing business.

In order to allow for historic horse racing, the word “horse-race” in subsection 197(1) simply needs to be removed. Our recommendation regarding the word “bet” is that it be defined as follows:

bet means a bet that is placed on any contingency or event that is to take place in or out of Canada, and without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes a bet that is placed on any contingency relating to a fight, match or sporting event that is to take place in or out of Canada save and except that, with respect to a horse-race, bet means a bet that is placed on any contingency or event in or out of Canada;

That would remedy the issue and allow historic horse racing, which we see as a vital addition to the product.

These two changes would make a significant difference to the lives of the 50,000 people who are involved in horse racing in Canada.

March 9th, 2021 / 12:45 p.m.
See context


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'm going to ask some questions of the B.C. Lottery Corporation.

One strength of Mr. Waugh's bill, and also one strength of the government bill, the previous Bill C-13, was that it didn't force the provinces to do any particular thing. It just gave them the capability to roll out products that some of their consumers would potentially like. As well, it also gave the power to take back some products if they found some issues related to them.

Could you speak a little to that, and also to some examples about what you do for gaming? Obviously we want to keep our focus on problem gaming as it rolls out. What do you do now? How is the flexibility that's being proposed here an advantage for a province?

Each province is a little different in terms of where they're at with this. That's one thing that I think is really underplayed. It's very much an important value that we don't make anybody have to do anything, and then each province can roll out how it goes about the next stage.

March 9th, 2021 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Sue Leslie President, Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I've been in the horse-racing industry and community for more than 40 years, and I currently have the privilege of being the chair and president of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. I've also held various other positions across the industry.

In 2012, I also had the privilege of being chair of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association when the industry faced a financial crisis due to the Government of Ontario's decision to end the slots at racetracks program, which at the time was the funding model used by government to support the horse-racing industry.

This one decision nearly killed the horse-racing industry. The industry seemed to be collapsing right before my eyes, and I won't go into the very sad details, including the welfare of the horses and the sheer worry of the thousands of families. Fortunately, we were able to show the government the devastation caused by this decision, and an alternative financial solution was provided.

I reference this time in our history only because while we support Bill C-218 and the legalization of sports betting, it reminds me of that devastation we faced and the potential devastation we could face again, with both horse racing and breeding, if the federal government does not include language to protect the industry, much as Bill C-13 did.

To further explain my significant concern regarding the unintended consequences the industry could face, it's important to understand that the costs associated with horse racing are substantial. This is true both for racetrack operators and for owners and breeders.

If it were permitted for an organization other than a racetrack operator to take legal, fixed-odds bets on horse racing without paying any of these substantial costs, then the business model the entire industry sits on would be completely broken.

Due to the investments made by horse owners and racetrack operators and support from the government, the horse-racing and breeding industry supports more than 50,000 jobs across the country. Many of these jobs are blue collar in rural Ontario. Most of these workers have spent their entire lives working on farms with horses and would have a difficult time finding another career should the industry be drastically reduced.

Our farmers, owners, trainers, breeders and caretakers are only a small part of the jobs and economic activity we create. We also employ veterinarians, blacksmiths, jockeys, contractors, trainers and physiotherapists. In addition, we build barns, arenas, fences and running sheds. We plough fields, we plant crops, and we buy tractors, vans and pickup trucks. We produce $5.7 billion annually in economic activity. I would say this is an industry more than worthy of protecting. I want to reiterate the $5.7 billion in economic activity and 50,000 jobs.

I've spent a fair amount of time speaking about the people and the families whose livelihoods depend on this industry. We must also consider the horses. The product is a living, breathing equine requiring 24-7 care, which is very labour intensive. If our people can't earn their living through horse racing, they will lose the income needed to take care of their livestock.

As an industry, we must do all we can to convince you that the language that protects the parimutuel bet must be reinserted into Bill C-218. If this wording is not reinstated in the bill, the horse-racing industry along with the 50,000 jobs it supports will be destroyed.

The horse-racing industry has a long and successful history of working with government and its agencies. We've established a good working relationship with the AGCO and the CPMA, which licenses racetracks and oversees the parimutuel betting. We are committed to continuing to work with both levels of government to maximize the return to government while doing the same for horse racing.

Horse racing has a proud worldwide history. Canada has produced some of the greatest race horses that have ever lived, including the great Northern Dancer.

I believe our government has a responsibility and a duty to the industry and the 50,000 Canadians who make their living in rural communities to include language in the bill to ensure a vibrant horse-racing industry alongside a brand new sports-betting industry that could become equally productive in generating jobs and economic activity.

Respectfully, this is the right thing to do.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

March 9th, 2021 / 11:45 a.m.
See context

President, Racetracks of Canada Inc.

William Ford


I can't speak to the nuances of your House rules, but what we're very simply asking is this. Bill C-218 deleted a paragraph, and we're asking that this just be amended. It is paragraph 207(4)(b). We're asking that the language, as very specifically set out in Bill C-13, be adopted and dropped into Bill C-218.

March 9th, 2021 / 11:40 a.m.
See context


Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

It's ironic because it was a New Jersey court case, but to think we're here because basically Nevada got a special pass because organized crime set up there to create the whole system. It's bitter irony that we're at this point in time.

I'm going to move really quickly to Mr. Ford.

You mentioned Bill C-218 and Bill C-13. The government's position on that.... We were part of...with Mr. Comartin and Mr. Hall drafting this current bill. Thanks to Mr. Waugh for taking it up.

The government bill was different from ours. I actually fought, ironically, to keep both bills alive. The government's position was that they were different. Not only did I deny them two opportunities to drop it in the House, but I spoke against it to the Speaker. The ruling has been that the two bills are too similar.

Do you have a specific amendment that you would want to have, because I think you have to convince the government of that? Even on that, the parliamentary secretary appealed to the Speaker to dismiss even my intervention on the floor of the House of Commons.

Do you have a particular remedy that you're looking for with regard to the situation that you're in?

March 9th, 2021 / 11:30 a.m.
See context

President, Racetracks of Canada Inc.

William Ford


Today, the parimutuel model wagers about $1.2 billion that is legal and goes through the CPMA. We're aware that there is a significant grey market area offshore where wagers go.

We would be very concerned if Bill C-218 came in unamended and fixed-odds wagering on horse racing were allowed. We could see that $1.2 billion totally undermined and easily cut in half. Those people who have received the licences from the various provinces would be under no obligation to pay into the system. The whole entire system could therefore collapse upon itself.

We absolutely need these protections that were in the government bill, BillC-13. With that, I think we can maintain the parimutuel system going forward.

That said, one of the things that we are telling all of our members is that you must work with your local provincial regulator. You must understand how it is going to roll out in your province and ensure that horse racing and tracks can play a meaningful role.

March 9th, 2021 / 11:15 a.m.
See context

Chief Executive Officer, Woodbine Entertainment Group

Jim Lawson

Thank you.

Currently the only backbone for the horse industry's business is parimutuel wagering. The industry operates the only legal single-event sports betting in Canada today, and it allows racetracks to earn income from legal wagers that are used to cover the substantial costs to produce our content. The parimutuel wagering also allows for profits to be shared with horse people, horse associations, breeding programs and horse aftercare programs.

As you have heard from Bill Ford of Racetracks of Canada, parimutuel wagering is a betting system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool, with payouts determined by the sharing of the pool among the winning wagerers, while fixed-odds payouts are agreed at the time a bet is made. Fixed-odds betting has mass appeal to large wagerers. The new generation of wagerers and large wagerers have grown up betting on points spread, much like you see in the National Football League.

This distinction is at the heart of the gravest risk to the Canadian horse-racing industry as your committee considers sports betting legislation. If the private member's bill, Bill C-218, is passed with its current language, it will allow others to offer fixed-odds wagering on horse racing. The horse-racing market is a zero-sum game. Horse-racing wagerers who would access fixed-odds betting will move away from the Canadian parimutuel pools. This will dramatically cannibalize the Canadian horse-racing industry's market share, and these operators would earn the revenue without contributing to the substantial costs of producing our content.

In other major sports betting jurisdictions in the world, notably Australia, fixed-odds wagering on horse racing has surpassed parimutuel wagering. In both Australia, and more recently in New Jersey, one of the first to implement and coordinate horse racing with sports betting, the government has introduced frameworks to protect the horse-racing industry.

We are requesting that private member's bill, Bill C-218, adopt language to protect the horse-racing industry. To do otherwise will ultimately destroy our industry.

Bill C-13, recently introduced by the federal government, has language to protect the industry from this risk. It is now incumbent on the government to insert its own language in the private member's bill to save an industry and the livelihoods of more than 50,000 families across this country.

March 9th, 2021 / 11:10 a.m.
See context

William Ford President, Racetracks of Canada Inc.

Good morning, Madam Chair and members of the committee.

My name is Bill Ford, and I'm here today on behalf of Racetracks of Canada. I appreciate the opportunity to speak.

Racetracks of Canada is a national organization representing over 40 racetracks across the country. Some are large like Woodbine in Toronto, but the majority are smaller seasonal tracks that play vital roles in their respective communities, many of which are in rural Canada.

Before turning to my substantive comments, I would like to provide some key statistics from a 2019 Jockey Club of Canada report on the Canada-wide economic impact of horse racing and breeding: $2.9 billion in value-added GDP; 56,000 full-time equivalent jobs; $2.1 billion in wages and salaries; and $1.2 billion in tax revenues to all levels of government.

I'm not here today to speak out against the sports betting bill. Over the last several months, our industry has stated its support for the legalization of fixed odds, single-event sports wagering in Canada. The horse-racing industry is particularly well suited to speak to the benefits of legal and properly regulated wagering in Canada. Black and grey markets benefit nobody.

However, it is vitally important that the legislative process considers the unintended consequences should the horse-racing industry not be protected.

Today, the horse-racing industry's business model is supported by parimutuel wagering. Section 204 of the Criminal Code establishes the parimutuel wagering system on horse racing when regulated and approved by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. Under the ministry, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, commonly referred to as the CPMA, has been set up as the industry's regulator.

The parimutuel system works as the house takeout is used to sustain the industry through payments to participants. Further, to obtain a parimutuel betting permit from the CPMA, a racing association must show that it has an agreement in place with its local horse people's group. This ensures that all stakeholders are invested in the parimutuel model.

Private member's bill C-218 as currently drafted could allow provincial lottery schemes and other licensed organizations to offer fixed-odds betting on horse racing. This could be done without any contributions back to the industry.

Bill C-13, which was another bill recently introduced by the federal government to legalize fixed-odds single-event sports wagering, included language that would prohibit any organization from accepting a fixed-odds wager on horse racing, ultimately protecting the industry from the risk highlighted earlier. We are strongly asking for the same protection in Bill C-218. Our industry and stakeholders need it.

That said, we can see the writing on the wall. The legalization of single-event sports betting will see the influx of massive foreign companies and leagues entering the Canadian wagering market. Competition will be severe, and racing will see market share shrink over time. It could potentially result in the closure of some tracks, which are already on the brink of financial non-viability, and the loss of thousands of jobs.

To that end, we are also requesting that historical horse racing be legalized. Historical horse racing is a parimutuel gaming product where individuals can place a wager on the outcome of races that have occurred in the past. Historical horse racing is currently prohibited by the Criminal Code, despite its being a proven and legal product in many jurisdictions.

With a simple change to the Criminal Code to allow for bets to be taken on an event that has taken place in the past, historical horse racing could be quickly introduced into the market, and would provide the entire horse-racing industry with a substantial and much-needed new revenue stream. This stream would be particularly beneficial to the smaller tracks that only run seasonally for a few weeks a year.

The industry has been speaking to the CPMA for years about the possibility of introducing historical horse racing to Canada. The CPMA has stated it is prepared to regulate it as a parimutuel wagering should the Criminal Code be amended.

In conclusion, Madam Chair, the horse-racing industry and Racetracks of Canada are supportive of the legalization of sports betting in Canada. However, it cannot be at the expense of a well-established industry that supports thousands of jobs and is the lifeblood of many rural communities.

Done correctly, single-event sports betting can create new jobs for Canadians and generate new revenues for the government all while protecting another industry, the horse-racing industry.

Thank you.

February 25th, 2021 / 12:50 p.m.
See context


Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Thank you very much, Madam Chair; and thank you to all the witnesses for a lot of informative testimony.

I'm going to start with Mr. Dias.

Jerry, it's always good to see you. Thank you for what you are doing with Unifor. There are many Unifor members in my riding of Parkdale-High Park and I've always appreciated the leadership you've shown.

I want to ask you, just at the outset, about something that is percolating in the background, which is the horse racing industry. In the other iteration of this bill, which is a government bill, Bill C-13, there is a carve-out for horse racing. We understand from a lot of horse racing witnesses who are about to come before us that they're keen to see a carve-out, because they want to protect those jobs at those racetracks.

I'm in Toronto, close to Woodbine. Can you tell me about those workplaces and your sense of how we protect those jobs? I'm not sure whether they're unionized by Unifor, or if they're unionized at all, but from your perspective, how do we protect those workers?

February 25th, 2021 / 11:50 a.m.
See context

Counsel, Criminal Law Policy Section, Policy Sector, Department of Justice

Michael Ellison

I suppose I can answer that question.

Under either of the bills that are before the House, Bill C-218 or Bill C-13, we don't have a way to say that all illegal betting would be brought into a legal market.