Friday September 11,2015 : CANADIAN PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS LOSING OUT ON BETTING OPPORTUNITIES
Access to internet betting has made changes to the law necessary.
The commencement of the NFL season in the USA has triggered a fresh plea by Canadian casino operators for a review of Canada's federal Criminal Code, which places constraints on operators, including a rule banning bets on the outcome of a single game.
Operators say that provincial governments which control regional gambling, and casinos are missing out on significant revenues spent by Canadian punters, who are turning to more appealing opportunities on the internet – typically with offshore operators.
The restrictions imposed by the Criminal Code mean that gamblers using provincial betting services have to wager on at least one other game, increasing the odds against winning…yet no such restraint applies to internet sites run by operators outside Canada, where single game bets can be placed through desktop and mobile channels, with some apps readily available locally.
Speaking out against the status quo, Canadian Gaming Association vice president Paul Burns commented this week:
“The Canadian casino operators and lottery corporations can’t offer that [single game] product, but Canadians still have access to it through the Internet. Because of the Internet, sports betting is a global business.”
Burns went on to claim that approximately Cdn$4 billion a year is gambled on the Internet by Canadians, whilst just Cdn$500 million was spent on Canadian-legal sports lottery products offered by the provinces. That means that provincial governments are losing out on revenue-sharing deals and tax receipts, because most of the money is flowing overseas, he said.
“Why not allow for Canadian operators to fight for some of that money to allow the benefits to stay in Canada?” he asked.
Overall Canadian gambling revenues amount to Cdn$16 billion a year, of which Cdn$8.7 billion goes to federal, provincial and local governments and various charities, according to the Association.
Operators and many Lower House politicians are still frustrated by the Senate's defeat of a private members bill seeking to allow single game betting which enjoyed wide commercial and political support.
Bill C-290 received overwhelming approval in the Commons in 2012, but ran into opposition and interminable delays imposed by some Senators, which ultimately strangled it.
Legal observers appear to agree that the Criminal Code is in need of review as the popularity of sports betting continues to grow, saying that some of its provisions are out of date and out of step with today's commercial realities and consumer demand.
Gambling online is growing, and consumers are receptive to new products such as fantasy sports and eSports betting, they point out.
Answering an enquiry from a Canadian publication this week, Ontario's finance minister Charles Sousa said that the province would welcome federal changes permitting single game betting and would deploy it if approved.