Will Canada Legalize Sports Betting in 2016?

Map of Canada with flagWith sports betting stuck in legal limbo in the United States, Americans might gain another escape to legalized sports betting other than Las Vegas. Canada will soon be considering a new bill that would allow for betting on single games.

This bill was originally introduced in 2013, but was tabled before making it into law. Currently, Canadians can make parlay bets on multiple games, but betting on a single sporting event is outlawed, as it is throughout much of the United States.
But again, Canadian lawmakers are beginning to look at the economics of the issue and getting off of their moral high horses. It is estimated that $450 million per year is spent on parlay bets, which is miniscule when compared to the $10 billion spent illegally by sports gamblers.

When sports betting is illegal, it gets pushed into the shady corners of the economy, where both moral and immoral operators can act. One of the main arguments to legalize gambling on sports is to bring it out of the shadows, regulate it properly, examine licensed organizations for ethical dealings with the public, and get tax revenue from its legality.

Perhaps the most ironic part of the bill's reintroduction is that it was itself the result of a lottery. Because no more than 30 private members' bills are allowed on the agenda of the Canadian House, a lottery is used to decide which members' bills make it. Brian Masse's name was chosen, and he will put the single event sports betting bill back on the agenda.

Masse also argues that legalizing sports betting would provide more jobs for Canadians, especially in the casinos. Furthermore, betting revenue could be used to fund schools, hospitals, and responsible gambling programs, rather than stay in the hands of illegal bookmakers.

It remains to be seen whether Canada will really move ahead with the bill this time. We can expect the major sports leagues in the US and Canada to oppose it, as they oppose any gambling legislation other than allowing Daily Fantasy Sports. But the world is slowly coming to realize outlawing sports betting doesn't eliminate it, while legalization could lead to more positive outcomes for society.