moved that Bill C-290, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, the bill itself is a very small, short bill. It would delete one small clause of the Criminal Code that prohibits anyone from wagering on a single sports event. It has been long standing in Canada that we can place bets on multiple sports events. Most people who are like me tend to follow one team, know a lot about the one team and do not know a lot about other games in the same league. The bill would do away with that prohibition. It has been in the code for a long time. It goes back to English history.
There are two reasons for my pushing for this change and for the widespread support that it has garnered.
One is the economic development tool that it provides to communities, particularly those with existing casinos or racetracks 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 at one of those centres, some more broadly and others on a more limited scale. We had a study done by the Canadian Gaming Association last summer and it showed, for instance in my region which has a very substantial commercial casino, that it would either save or create 150 to 200 new jobs. The same is true for the casino in Niagara. The focus on those two casinos is because we are immediately adjacent to the American border. 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. It would be a good economic tool that would draw gaming dollars in from the United States and potentially from other parts of the world, depending on how it is deployed.
The other major reason was the inspiration for the initiative. This gaming is going on now but it is almost exclusively offshore. In Canada it is completely controlled by, and is a major revenue source for, organized crime. We have estimates of billions of dollars being gained in Canada and tens of billions of dollars in the United States because it is illegal there. This would strike a blow against organized crime by taking revenue away from it. We know one of the major tools a government can deploy to fight organized crime is to take away financial incentive. This would help us do that. The extent would depend on how many provinces use this resource and to what extent they use it.
I want to acknowledge the support I have had for the bill. I want to start with members of Parliament from all of the parties. We have had very close to unanimous support for this, for both reasons that I have already cited: the economic development and the fight against organized crime. People understand that. Members of Parliament understand it and are supportive that this is a good step forward. I also want to acknowledge the work by provincial governments, particularly Ontario and British Columbia. They have been very strong. They have already been working up plans, if this bill goes through, as to how they would deploy it in their provinces. I want to recognize the Canadian Gaming Association. It has done a fair amount of the background on this, including the study I mentioned. I want to recognize the Canadian Auto Workers Union. It represents a number of people at some of the casinos across the country and it has also been very supportive in pushing this bill forward.
Finally, I want to recognize both the City of Windsor and the City of Niagara Falls. Their municipal councillors have passed resolutions in support of the bill.
With regard to the process, we are at third reading stage now. At second reading the bill passed with no opposition at all in the House. It went to committee. It was supported unanimously at committee with one amendment.
There are still some negotiations going on in consultation with some of the provinces. The government felt the need to hold off giving royal assent, assuming it gets through the House and the Senate, until it finalizes those consultations. Members of the NDP are strong supporters of extensive consultations with the provinces. The legislation should not go through unless the provinces are fully aware of what the bill will do and its consequences. I anticipate that the consultation process will finish some time this year.
Now the bill is back in the House and looks like it has substantial support. I am not going to say anything further because my voice is about to disappear. I want to again thank all members of the House, both those who are here and those who in the past have supported it. I appreciate that widespread support.