Legal Sports Betting in Canada Appears Imminent

    • Single-event sports betting could be legalized nationwide in Canada.
    • Every year, Canadians wager around $7.9 billion through illegal sportsbooks.

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Sports betting north of the border? You can bank on it.

Canada’s House of Commons passed a bill allowing for single-event sports gambling by a 303-15 margin. The measure, which has the support of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will go through hearings in the Justice Committee, and then on to the senate.

If the bill is approved as written, single-event sports betting would be legalized nationwide with regulation in the hands of provinces and territories. 

In June, the commissioners of the NBA, NHL, MLB, Major League Soccer, and Canadian Football League wrote a letter to Trudeau and other top officials calling for legalized gambling in the country. Such a move could lure gamblers away from a thriving black market.

  • Every year, Canadians wager around $7.9 billion through illegal sportsbooks, which are often run by organized crime operations, per the Canadian Gaming Association.
  • The association estimates that Canadians put an additional $3.2 billion into offshore online sportsbooks, with only $393.9 million passing through legal Canadian channels.

In the U.S., sports betting legislation continues its inexorable move through the states. A bill to legalize the practice in Arizona passed a Senate committee on Wednesday, and could make it to the full Senate in March.

Louisiana is sorting out taxes and regulations after legalizing sports betting in 55 of its 64 parishes, including the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas. Ohio is starting to look at the issue, and numbers from some neighboring states may provide motivation to legalize.

Michiganders are off to a flying start, wagering $115.2 million in the first ten days of legal sports gambling in the state, which generated about $4.4 million in tax revenue.

Pennsylvanians placed $615.3 million in sports bets in January, 94% of which were placed online.