Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act

An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting)

This bill was previously introduced in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Kevin Waugh  Conservative

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

Status

In committee (House), as of Feb. 17, 2021

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-218.

Summary

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.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Feb. 17, 2021 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-218, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting)

February 23rd, 2021 / 12:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you, MP Masse, for all your work on your bill and for piggybacking with me on my private member's bill, Bill C-218.

February 23rd, 2021 / 12:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Rhéal Fortin Bloc Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Mr. Waugh, it is no secret to anyone that the Bloc Québécois is in favour of your bill.

We in the Bloc Québécois also feel that there are a number of reasons to leave the governments of Quebec and the provinces to manage this industry and use the profits that it generates as they see fit. We are on the same wavelength in that respect.

Could you quickly explain to us the difference between Bill C-13 and Bill C-218? We understand that Bill C-218 would repeal the paragraph in question completely, whereas the proposal in Bill C-13 is to keep the provision as it applies to horseracing.

If Bill C-13 is passed, would you be satisfied? Does our choice have to be to completely remove the paragraph in its entirety?

February 23rd, 2021 / 12:10 p.m.
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Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you very much, Madam Chair and all members of the justice committee, for inviting me here today to discuss Bill C-218, the safe and regulated sports betting act.

This important piece of legislation seeks to make a rather simple change to the Criminal Code to remove the long-standing restriction against betting on single-sport events, fights and races.

By the way, I was very happy to see the broad support this legislation received in the House of Commons last week and the positive remarks made by all colleagues from all parties.

Single-event sports betting already takes place in this country, and it is a massive industry. According to some estimates, the single-event sports betting industry is worth $14 billion per year. Unfortunately, due to the fact that it is banned under the Criminal Code, this betting all takes place through offshore betting websites and black market bookmakers, most of whom have ties to criminal organizations like the Hells Angels.

This, in and of itself, spawns a variety of problems. First of all, the fact that single-event betting remains prohibited means that the provinces, which are typically responsible for management of lottery and betting systems, are totally unable to regulate this industry. As such, none of these websites or bookmakers are subject to any regulation or taxes.

Not being subject to regulation or government oversight, these websites have no consumer protection requirements, aren't required to maintain or support problem gambling programs, and don't reinvest or spur any further economic activity in the communities that they generate their profits from. This means that all of the profits from such wagers go straight into the pockets of foreign website operators and criminals. In the case of criminal organizations like the Hells Angels, which operate the black market betting rings and websites across this country, the money generated goes on to fund other forms of criminality, providing increased risk to the safety of our communities.

While parlay betting, which requires bettors to select the winners of multiple games correctly, is legal and already exists as a product available in Canada, parlay-betting products like Pro-Line and Sport Select generate only a small fraction of the sport betting in this country, approximately $500 million per year. These products are naturally less attractive to bettors, as the odds of succeeding in their wagers are greatly reduced, so they seek avenues to bet on single events and go toward avenues that most bettors don't realize are actually restricted in this country.

By removing these restrictions in the Criminal Code and putting single-event betting into the hands of the provincial governments, the provinces will be able to offer the products that bettors actually want to bet on and take betting out of the hands, then, of this black market. Organizations such as the Western Canada Lottery Corporation, Lotto-Quebec, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and others that the governments might entrust with these products have experience in these industries and are highly regulated to ensure that consumers are well protected.

It also means that the billions of dollars that currently go to offshore sites and criminal organizations are actually going back into our communities, creating jobs and supporting community programs.

Many provincial governments and their regulators have expressed their support for this proposal, as have amateur sport organizations like Canada Soccer; professional sport leagues, including the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, the Canadian Football League and Major League Soccer; and community organizations, plus municipal governments.

In closing, Madam Chair, the legalization of single-event sport betting provides a much-needed opportunity to tackle illegal gambling in this country and create new opportunities for economic development and new avenues for a variety of sectors, especially given the difficult times that we find ourselves in.

Bill C-218 has widespread support, both in the House and across this country.

I trust that in the name of good policy we can work together to get this legislation through this committee and to the rest of the legislative process.

Again, thank you, Madam Chair, and all members of the committee, for your time here today. I'm more than happy to answer some questions.

February 23rd, 2021 / 12:10 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

We will start the second hour of this meeting.

For the duration of our study of Bill C-218, I welcome Mr. Masse, who will be replacing Mr. Garrison throughout this study.

Brian, welcome to our committee. It's really good to have you.

I know we're all quite familiar now with the Zoom technology, but I'll remind members to speak slowly and clearly, to please unmute when they are speaking and to mute when they are not speaking.

With that, I welcome Mr. Waugh, who is here by video conference, even though he's in Ottawa.

As a reminder, I have a one-minute card and a 30-second card for members as we go through our questioning, just to make it easier for everyone.

Mr. Waugh, you have five minutes to make your opening remarks.

Single Event Sports BettingStatements by Members

February 19th, 2021 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, yet again I rise in the chamber to discuss single event sports betting, as the chamber voted overwhelmingly in favour of Bill C-218, which would permit each province to determine how to regulate legal betting, so revenues can flow, jobs can be created and the billions of dollars feeding organized crime, bookies and off-shore operators can end. The bill was originally proposed by NDP MP Joe Comartin, and later me, and I was pleased to withdraw it, to permit the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood to join the efforts, and he has done good work.

This decades-plus adventure has been an exhilarating tale. Indeed, it passed in the House before dying in the Senate, but now some members, including the Prime Minister, have changed their vote. That is not a weakness, but a strength, speaking to the urgency of fixing the problem. Among the drama has been the recent government bill, Bill C-13, introduced with some doing victory laps, chest thumping, high fives and slapping backs, yet the government scuttled its own efforts, having never brought it to the floor for debate. Ironically, I defended the government, as I think the Minister of Justice deserves credit for drafting good legislation.

As we go forward, I want to thank the members who supported the bill, including unanimously from the NDP, the bloc and the Green Party, and the Liberals and Conservatives who did not. I remain open to helping to work on this issue.

I thank David Cassidy and Ken Lewenza from Unifor 44, Mayor Dilkens, and Eddie Francis, Rakesh Naidu and Matt Marchand for being on this journey.

Criminal Code—Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderOral Questions

February 18th, 2021 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Following the order raised earlier today, I would like to make a statement on Bill C-13, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to single-event sports betting and its similarity to Bill C-218, an act to amend the Criminal Code with regard to sports betting, standing in the name of the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood. As members are aware, both bills seek to amend the same provision of the Criminal Code as it relates to single sports betting.

While Bill C-13 was introduced in the House on November 26, 2020, and has yet to be called for debate by the government, the general provisions surrounding single sports betting have in fact not only been debated in the House during consideration of Bill C-218, but a decision was made yesterday by the House on the general principle of allowing all single sports betting, and the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The House is now placed in an unusual situation where a decision was made on one of two very similar bills standing on the Order Paper.

The Chair recognizes that both bills are not identical; they are, however, substantially similar as they both amend the exact same provision of the Criminal Code for similar purposes.

Both Bill C-218 and Bill C-13 seek to amend the same paragraph of the Criminal Code as it pertains to sports betting. Bill C-218 repeals paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code in its entirety, to make it lawful to conduct and manage a lottery scheme that involves betting on a race, a fight or a single sporting event. As for Bill C-13, it conserves the paragraph, but seeks to amend it to make single sports betting lawful, except for bets on a horse race.

The rule of anticipation, which prohibits the same question from being decided twice by the House within the same session, is explained in the following manner at page 568 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition:

The rule of anticipation becomes operative only when one of two similar motions on the Order Paper is actually proceeded with. For example, two bills similar in substance will be allowed to stand on the Order Paper but only one may be moved and disposed of. If a decision is taken of the first bill (for example, to defeat the bill or advance it through a stage in the legislative process), then the other may not be proceeded with.

This makes clear that if two bills are similar, without being substantially the same, both may be placed on notice, introduced and given first reading, and both could even be debated at second reading, provided that the House has not taken a decision with respect to either of them.

Given the decision of the House yesterday afternoon, the question therefore before the House is, following the adoption of Bill C-218 at second reading, should Bill C-13 be permitted to proceed further in the legislative process?

In adopting Bill C-218 at second reading, the House has agreed to the principle of the bill and consequently has agreed to repealing the portion of the Criminal Code that deals with sports betting. While there are examples where the House has repealed sections of an act already amended by another bill adopted by the House in the same session, this is not exactly the situation before us today. Instead, since Bill C-218 seeks to completely repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code, it seems to the Chair that it would not be possible for Bill C-13 to continue in the legislative process, as it would seek to amend a paragraph of the Criminal Code that would no longer exist upon adoption of Bill C-218. In fact, the Chair notes that other avenues would be open to the House to achieve those same ends, such as through amendments proposed to Bill C-218 during the committee's study. As a consequence, the Chair has difficulty seeing how the House could now move forward with Bill C-13 after it has adopted the larger principle of repealing the very portion of the Criminal Code that Bill C-13 seeks to amend.

Consequently, as long as Bill C-218 follows its course through the legislative process during this session, Bill C-13 may not be proceeded with. As was mentioned during the intervention yesterday, as well as previously by the member for Saskatoon—Grasswood, members who wish to further review or amend the provisions included in Bill C-218 should follow the proceedings and take part in discussions during the hearings of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

I thank all members for their attention.

Criminal CodePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

February 18th, 2021 / 1:50 p.m.
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NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I would like to provide input on a decision that was asked of the Speaker earlier today. I will make my intervention short, and I thank the Speaker for the indulgence.

I rise today to provide input on a matter that was raised by the member for Kingston and the Islands this morning and further discussed by the official opposition House leader. I would like to discuss the significant and meaningful difference between Bill C-218 and Bill C-13.

First, the member for Kingston and the Islands, when he spoke in the House on Wednesday, February 17, stated:

We also proposed to engage the provinces, territories, indigenous communities and organizations that have expressed an interest in discussing how gambling is regulated. We believe Bill C-13 is substantively different from Bill C-218, as it includes a horse racing provision and achieves its objectives through different means.

I agree with this statement. The government member is correct and is stating the facts. The bills are substantially different. This was found in an analysis conducted by the subject matter experts at the Library of Parliament in a section of a research report comparing Bill C-13 and Bill C-218.

The report looks at how Bill C-218 would repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code in its entirety. The consequence would appear to be that betting on a single sport event or athlete contest would then be permitted, since those activities would no longer be excluded from the definition of “lottery scheme”, but so would be betting on other types of activities referred to in that paragraph, notably all types of races.

By way of contrast, Bill C-13 would amend paragraph 207(4)(b), rather than repealing it, so that the following activities would continue not to be permitted lottery schemes: “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”.

In other words, Bill C-13 would continue to exclude betting on horse racing as a type of lottery scheme the provinces could engage in. The governmental materials issued on Bill C-13 confirm the explanation that the regulation of single event sports betting would be up to the discretion of each province and territory, with the exception of horse racing, which would remain regulated and supervised by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency.

As the experts have pointed out, there are very significant differences in both bills.

Next I would like to discuss the process. The place to decide which of these significantly different bills merits further progress is in a relevant committee, which would examine both bills in detail, hear from stakeholders and make considered determinations. The committee would then vote on these bills and resolve which one should proceed to third reading.

I trust the legislative process of the House. The procedures, evaluations and safeguards are built-in. We should trust it and allow members to carry out their duties as legislators, which will result in the most robust and thorough bill.

It is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, you have been put in this situation. This mismanagement of Bill C-13 has caused delays. It has been debated constantly, and taken on and off the calendar, which has created confusion and concern, and has led to these unnecessary circumstances.

Business workers and communities have been waiting long enough to have this substantial issue addressed. I have had the privilege of being a member of this chamber since 2002. During all these years, I have witnessed that the tradition of the House, when it is uncertain, is for the Speaker to allow the debate and the process to continue. I hope we can uphold this time-honoured practice.

I appreciate the indulgence of the House today in allowing me to speak to this issue. I did not want to want to intervene in the momentum of the debate today, but I had to given what the government has done.

February 18th, 2021 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

Oh, sorry, Mr. Fortin. The meeting is on Tuesday, but I'm talking about the deadline to submit your witnesses for Bill C-218.

February 18th, 2021 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

I will look through the schedule to see if we can find an opening for a subcommittee meeting. At this time, it seems that it is not going to be possible as we are giving drafting instructions and then starting the study on Bill C-218. However, we will absolutely make sure that you have ample opportunity in a steering meeting to speak to your motion as well.

I understand the limitations on time right now. I just want to quickly see, Monsieur Fortin, if Monday the 22nd by noon is okay for witnesses from each party. With the 12 witnesses, excluding Mr. Waugh as the sponsor, it would be four witnesses for the Conservatives, four for the Liberals, two for the NDP and two for the Bloc.

Are we agreed on that breakdown for Monday, February 22 at 12 noon?

Monsieur Fortin.

February 18th, 2021 / 1:05 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

The next thing, as I had outlined in our last meeting, is that on Tuesday coming, in the first hour, we'll be giving drafting instructions to the analysts for this study on domestic violence. For the second hour, I am proposing that we invite the sponsor of Bill C-218, Mr. Waugh, to come and speak to his private member's bill. Then, we will have two further meetings on Bill C-218, then one for clause-by-clause, and then we will get back to our established schedule.

February 18th, 2021 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

We can have a subcommittee meeting on this, but I'm presuming that would mean that after we deal with Bill C-218 we would then return to our previous schedule for COVID-related impacts on the justice system.

February 18th, 2021 / 1 p.m.
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Conservative

Rob Moore Conservative Fundy Royal, NB

Madam Chair, what is your suggestion regarding the timing for Bill C-218 in terms of days of study? You're suggesting the first hour would be the second hour of our meeting on Tuesday, and then we'd have a full meeting on—

February 18th, 2021 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

Arif Virani Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

We've just concluded four meetings and the testimony is fresh in our minds. My respectful suggestion would be that we use the time we had allotted next week to wrap up this study and give direction to the analysts, etc. Once that's done, if there's a gap in between when the analysts are bringing back the report, etc. and the final conclusion in tying up this report, we can commence Bill C-218 at that time.

I think two meetings ought to be sufficient. I think there's all-party support for this bill, so it should be a fairly quick analysis of Bill C-218 on safe sports betting.

February 18th, 2021 / 1 p.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Iqra Khalid

Thank you very much, Chief.

Thank you, Mr. Garrison.

At this time, I would like to thank all of our witnesses. I really appreciate your testimony. If there are clarifications that you would like to add or any other statements of fact, please do send them over through the clerk. We would be happy to receive them.

At this time, I want to go over something really quickly with our members. Witnesses are free to leave if they would like to.

As members know, Bill C-218 has been referred to our committee at this time. I would like to ask members about this. If we give precedence to bills that are referred to us, should we be going into our bill study first or sticking with our current schedule of COVID and delays in the justice system?

I would propose that if we are going to go to Bill C-218, we can invite the sponsor of the bill for the second hour of the next meeting on Tuesday, then have two meetings with witnesses—two full panels—and then have one meeting on clause-by-clause. I leave it to members to decide if that's the route they would like to go.

Mr. Virani.

Criminal CodePoints of OrderGovernment Orders

February 18th, 2021 / 12:45 p.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government asked for unanimous consent to withdraw Bill C-13, which is still on the Order Paper, at second reading.

This request was made in response to Bill C-218 being passed at second reading. Since both bills propose similar amendments to the Criminal Code, it makes sense to withdraw one bill and move forward with the other.

Unanimous consent was denied, which means that not all members agreed.

A point of order was raised today to ask the Speaker to rule on the matter of the rule of anticipation, which forbids the same question from being decided twice within the same session. While Bosc and Gagnon supports this argument, it also claims, “past attempts to apply this British rule to Canadian practice are inconclusive.”

The sponsor of Bill C-218 has indicated to the Speaker and to me that he wants to weigh in on this important point of order since it involves his bill. He plans to do so as soon as the House resumes tomorrow.

Bill C-13 cannot be called for debate today since, as we know, opposition motions on allotted days take precedence over all other business. In addition, except for today, the government has the prerogative to schedule this bill any day it wants, and last I looked, it has other bills to debate, including the bill to implement the economic statement, normally a priority bill for a government.

Mr. Speaker, I urge you to respect the member's right to defend his bill and make his own representations regarding the rule of anticipation before you make your ruling on this matter.