Sunday February 10,2013 : CANADIAN SPORTS BILL BOGGED DOWN
Growing Senate opposition could kill C-290
A new Canadian law – C-290 – which seeks to give individual provinces the right to decide whether to allow single-game sports betting appears to be bogged down in the Senate on its third and final reading into law after sailing without problems through the Commons.
Earlier this week Canadian senators returned from a short break, but have not taken up the debate, perhaps because some Senators have indicated that it would be strongly opposed.
Senators who spoke to The Canadian Press expressed concern about the lack of debate in the Commons.
"It kind of flew through the House without a great deal of scrutiny," Sen. Linda Frum said. "It had one day at committee, and they really didn't study the bill. They didn't invite the stakeholders who will be impacted by the bill. So I'm not sure it really had the proper level of study or scrutiny."
Professional sports leagues strongly oppose the proposal. They argue allowing single-game betting could open a Pandora's Box of match-fixing and social problems associated with gambling.
The National Hockey League opined:
"We firmly believe that legalized sports betting threatens to compromise integrity, and that the single-game betting scheme that Bill C-290 seeks to decriminalize poses a particularized and unique threat in that regard.
"Such wagering poses perhaps the greatest threat to the integrity of our games, since it is far easier to engage in ‘match fixing' in order to win single-game bets than it is in cases of parlay betting (as currently exists in Canada), where bets are determined on the basis of multiple game outcomes."
C-290 also faces time constraints; it was last addressed by the Senate 10 sitting days ago and is fast approaching the 15 sitting days deadline by which it must have been further debated. Failure to do so could see the measure being removed from the Order Paper, forcing its re-introduction through the Commons.
Some political observers believe this is the intention of those politicians opposing the bill. Liberal Senator Joe Day is on record as saying that he expected the majority Conservatives would let C-290 “die a natural death.”
Alternatively, Conservative and Liberal senators appear to believe they have sufficiently strong opposing numbers to stop the proposal in its tracks if necessary.
If such an outcome emerged it would be the first time the Upper Chamber has rejected legalization unanimously passed by members of Parliament, the Canadian Press notes..
The proposed legalization seeks to repeal the Criminal Code section that prohibits betting on a single "race, fight, sporting event or athletic contest."