Nearly two months after a bill legalizing single-game sports betting in Canada became law, the country’s top justice official announced Thursday the law would finally take effect in two weeks.
Canadian Attorney General and Minister of Justice David Lametti said the C-218, the landmark legislation sponsored by MP Kevin Waugh (Conservative-Saskatoon-Grasswood) will “come into force” on Aug. 27.
The Canadian Senate passed it by a 57-20 vote on its third reading in that chamber on June 22. That, in essence, was the last major hurdle the bill needed to clear, and for weeks, there was concern that the legislation would not get approved before Parliament broke for its summer recess.
Some proponents expressed concern that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would call a snap election during the break, and if that happened with the sports betting bill still in limbo, then the process would have needed to start over again next year when the new session started.
Even in the weeks after its passage, supporters grew antsy waiting for the government to make the announcement. The legislation received the Royal Assent, a ceremonial announcement that a passed bill has become a law, a week after the last Senate vote. However, there was still one step remaining.
Unlike most US legislation, which states a specific date or timeframe for when it formally takes effect, Canadian laws receive an in-force date either from the governor-general or the current administration.
Gaming industry leaders and lawmakers who fought for the bill publicly complained that the Trudeau Administration was stalling.
40+ days and no word from @JustinTrudeau or @MinJusticeEn on the enactment date for the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Bill #C218. The communities of Windsor & Niagara Falls have been eagerly awaiting single event wagering…
— Canadian Gaming Association (@CanadianGaming) August 9, 2021
Canadian Gaming Leaders Celebrate
In a statement, the Canadian Gaming Association said a legal single-game market will create new jobs and help gaming companies.
“Casino operators are looking forward to offering sports betting at their properties, and provinces will now have the authority to deliver a safe, legal, and controlled sports betting option to Canadians,” the association said.
Mobile sports betting operators have also been waiting with anticipation for the date. Some, like PointsBet, had already started administrative operations in Canada in preparing for the opportunities soon to come.
However, one of the biggest winners may be theScore, a Canadian sports media company that offers a mobile wagering app in four US states. John Levy, theScore’s CEO testified before lawmakers as C-218 made its way through Parliament.
In tweet Wednesday with his attached statement, Levy joked that single-game wagering is now “really really official” thanks Lametti’s announcement.
Regulated sports betting is an industry that will flourish, benefitting all Canadians through the creation of much needed jobs, new revenue streams and important consumer protections,” Levy said.
Last week, Penn National Gaming announced its acquisition of Levy’s enterprise and plans to incorporate its technology platform into its Barstool Sportsbook app.
Lotteries to Start Single-Game Sports Betting
With an official date now set, officials in Canadian provinces will be able to move forward with their plans to regulate a legal sports betting market. And the first operators who will be able to take advantage of the new law are the provincial lotteries.
Both the British Columbia Lottery Corp. and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. announced after Lametti’s news that they would be able to launch their single-game apps on Aug. 27.
Ontario lottery officials even unveiled their new brand, PROLINE+ and were welcoming early registrations for new bettors in the nation’s most populous province with a $50 bonus offer.
Ontario Taking Steps Now
So, with the lotteries ready to go, when might the licensed books rollout? That process will take longer, but officials in some provinces have already started work on the process.
Last month, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released a draft regulatory document with single-game sports betting provisions. The commission is welcoming feedback on those regulations through next Wednesday.
Another step took place on Wednesday when Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) announced it had been named an iGaming independent testing library for AGCO.
As lawmakers worked the single-game sports betting bill through Parliament earlier this year, officials in Ontario were working on expanding iGaming to allow commercial operators into the market.
Under the arrangement with AGCO, GLI will test iGaming games, random number generators, and cybersecurity.
Salim Adatia, GLI’s vice president of client services for North America, told Casino.org Thursday that the agreement with AGCO includes sports betting once the commission’s standards have been finalized.
Once the regulatory standards for sports and event betting have been formally published by the AGCO, much like Internet Gaming related to casino-style games, GLI will test for sports and event betting on behalf of the AGCO approved sports and event betting operators and suppliers,” he said.
According to the timeline posted on iGamingOntario.ca, the agency overseeing the launch of commercial online gaming apps in the province, iGaming operators are expected to be able to sign commercial agreements with the agency this fall, with technology systems being deployed and then tested shortly after that.
Ontario’s plan is to have iGaming apps live in December.
It’s uncertain at this point if mobile sports betting apps will follow that same timeline.
Canadian Officials Pledge to Include Tribes
As the bill was drawing close to the final vote, leaders from the Mohawk Council of the Kahnawake, a recognized First Nations people sought to include an amendment to the bill that would have given tribal gaming organizations opportunities to offer sports betting. A Senate committee voted down the measure as backers of C-218 said amending the bill in the Senate would have forced more votes in the House of Commons, and that would not have happened in time.
Before C-218 passed, the only form of sports betting allowed in Canada was parlay betting, where a bettor must pick several correct outcomes correctly to win. However, the Kahnawake, a Quebec-based people, created their own single-game betting app called Sports Interaction. While it operates against federal law, the online product has been a major revenue producer for the Kahnawake.
In announcing the in-force date, Lametti added that the Trudeau Administration has had talks with indigenous peoples and provinces and territories to identify more opportunities for tribal outlets in the soon-to-expand gaming realm.
“The Government of Canada will continue discussions on the future of gaming, collaboratively with provincial and Indigenous partners,” Lametti said.
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