As Canadian Sports Betting Bill Nears Passage, Election Rumors Pose a Threat

By | June 4, 2021

A bill to legalize single-game sports betting in Canada is making its way through the country’s Senate, with committee hearings set for Friday and next week. However, there are fears that time may soon run out on the legislation, as rumblings of a snap – or early – election grow louder.

Canadian Sports Betting
The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs just wrapped up a seven-game playoff series that captured Canada’s attention during the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Canadian lawmakers are considering a bill that would legalize single-game sports betting. The bill has the support of the NHL and other professional sports leagues in Canada. (Image: Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Canada, like the US, does hold regular elections every four years. The last took place on Oct. 21, 2019, and the next scheduled election is set for Oct. 16, 2023. However, America’s neighbor also has a provision allowing the Prime Minister to advise the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament early and call for a new election.

Should that happen before C-218 passes Parliament, then supporters would need to start over again after the new legislative body convenes in Ottawa. MP Kevin Waugh (Conservative-Saskatoon-Grasswood), the bill’s sponsor, has said that a new single-game sports betting bill wouldn’t come to fruition until next year.

That is why proponents like Paul Burns, the president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, have been pushing Senators to pass the bill before the summer recess starts in three weeks.

“We think it’s entirely within the ability of their agenda to do that,” Burns told Casino.org last month.

Currently, Canada limits legal sports betting to parlay, or multi-event, bets. Offshore sportsbooks, though, are prevalent across the country.

The Canadian Senate is like the US Senate in that it’s considered the more deliberative political body. However, its members are appointed and not elected. Still, any legislation they are considering would have to start over in the House of Commons if Parliament is dissolved.

Why There Might Be an Early Election

Currently, there is no majority party in the 338-seat House of Commons. The Liberal Party runs a minority government, as it controls a plurality of seats, 154. The Conservative Party hold 119, and no other party holds more than 32.

Liberals would need to win 170 seats to secure a majority government. But Allan Tupper, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia Vancouver campus, said that parties typically try for 175 to 180 seats to ensure they have enough votes to pass key legislation.

A minority ruling party would typically call a snap election if they see an opportunity to pick up seats and earn a majority. However, this past year has been anything but typical.

You’ve got great uncertainty because of COVID, although things are getting better here on that front,” Tupper told Casino.org.

An issue that may play into the Liberals favor is that the Conservatives have a relatively new leader. Tupper said there are also questions whether it would be ready for a snap election.

Tupper, though, doesn’t think an election will take place during the summer. Traditionally, Canada holds its elections in the fall.

Likely Time Line for a Canadian Election

The Canadian Elections Act stipulated that an election period must last at least 37 days and no more than 51.

Couple that with a report from the CBC last week that indicated 142 members of Parliament, including 92 Liberals, would miss out on a $32,000 annual pension if they were to lose their seat before Oct. 19. That’s because those members were first elected on Oct. 19, 2015 and they must serve six years to earn their pension.

Of the 92 Liberals, 23 serve as ministers in the Trudeau Administration.

For an election to be held on Oct. 20, officials could call it as early as Aug. 30. Currently, the Senate wouldn’t return until late September.

Most MPs have gone on record to say they oppose holding an election during the pandemic. A resolution brought forward by Bloc Québécois earned support from 327 members.

However, iPolitics.ca reported that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to commit to waiting until the pandemic is over before calling for an election.

While most of the US has at least started reopening businesses and relaxing restrictions, Canada remains in the throes of it, as many businesses – including casinos – remain closed. Canadian officials faced difficulties in securing doses, as the country did not have production facilities to make vaccines. The country did not begin to receive large quantities of the vaccine until early spring. That’s about three months after it became available in the US.

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