Tuesday October 4, 2011 : Amendment to Canada's Criminal Code proposed
 
Canadian punters have enjoyed legal parlay-style sports wagering for many years, but have been frustrated by limitations that ban wagering on a single sporting event…but that could be about to change, boosting a business that is currently estimated to generate around Cdn$10 billion a year, much of it illegal – only Cdn$450 million is wagered through the currently legal and regulated provincial sports lottery products.
 
The trigger for this change could be an amendment proposed in parliament this week by Joe Comartin, M.P. for Windsor Tecumseh, who seeks to amend the Criminal Code to permit single-event sports wagering in Canada.
 
"The reality is that Canadians are wagering on sports predominantly through illegal means, either with bookies or online," claims Bill Rutsey, CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, in a statement supporting the amendment. "This bill will enable sports wagering to occur in safe, regulated environments."
 
A review of the annual reports of the Criminal Intelligence Services Canada (CISC) indicates that illegal bookmaking exists in all regions of Canada, with organised crime ultimately profiting from the revenue, says the Association. While the size of the Canadian market is unknown, estimates suggest it is in excess of Cdn$10 billion annually.
 
The growth in wagering on sports through the Internet has significantly increased over the past decade, with estimates showing that Canadians wager in excess of Cdn$2 billion annually through offshore sports books. Sports books return approximately 95 percent of the wagers to bettor in prize payouts, it asserts.
 
"The opportunity to offer a true sports book experience in casinos like Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls or Caesars Windsor cannot be overlooked," Rutsey said. "It will provide tremendous tourist opportunities to those communities, and also ensure that our industry and our provincial governments benefit from any wagers made in Canada."