As you might have already heard, the U.S Supreme Court ruled on Monday to overthrow a previous federal law that banned sports betting. In one fell swoop, sports betting suddenly became legal and regulated in all 50 states (although it was already legal in Nevada).
Without a shadow of a doubt, this is one of the most momentous events in the world of online gambling in recent times. Undoubtedly, the ruling will see times of great change for betting in North America.
More specifically, the U.S.A is about to start raking in billions every year from sports betting.
Almost a year ago, on 9th June 2017, Playcasinos.ca reported on how Canada was already losing over C$4 billion annually to off-shore betting companies. With this new federal law in place, Canada is going to miss out on even more big money to its neighbor down south.
Sports Betting in Canada 2018
So far into the story, it is the separate provinces in Canada that have jurisdiction over the legality of gambling in general. However, there's a particular section in Canada's criminal code – Section 207(4) – that states that, while governments can run lotteries and lottery corporations, they cannot permit wagering on single sporting events.
This means that Canadians can purchase lottery tickets from secure vendors – but they cannot make legal bets on a single sporting event, like a Stanley Cup game.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, for example, does provide the option to bet on sports betting. But players must wager on a number of events at a go. Going back to the Stanley Cup, to bet on that you'd also have to place bets on other sports on the same ticket. Which doesn't make much sense for the player who'd like to win some money.
Rejection of Proposed Bill in 2016
While in an ideal world this multiple sports betting would mean that Canadian players do not gamble much, what it actually means is that billions are poured into off-shore sportsbooks and underground bookies. Approximately C$4 billion and growing.
In 2016, NDP MP Brian Masse tried to push forward a bill that would allow CA players to bet on single sports events at their provincial lottery offices. This would allow the government to both regulate and tax these events. Unfortunately, this bill was blocked in September 2016.
Now that the U.S has legalized sports betting, it is highly likely that Canadians will start pouring money into single sport event bets provided by U.S agencies. Not exactly the best thing for the economy.
What does this mean for Canada in 2018?
If previous reports reflected that around C$4 billion was being lost to off-shore sports betting companies, this number can only sky-rocket in 2018. The new federal ruling will make it easier than ever for CA players to bet on their favorite sports. Just, not within Canadian territory.
That is, unless Canada decides to do something about its own sports betting legislation.
As Vancouver sports-business commentator Tom Mayenknecht stated,
It will put the issue back on the front-burner here in Canada as well. There’s no doubt in my mind the provincial lottery corporations are ready to take the lead given the right federal legislation.
It’s a huge development for sports betting in North America and will allow it to catch up with Europe and Asia, where sports betting has been legal for years.
Of course, the current issue with off-shore sports betting is that it is unregulated. No regulation can only mean one thing – no safety for the consumer. If Canada were to legalize sports betting, not only would it be ensuring another massive money-making industry for its economy, but it would also be able to regulate and protect Canadian players.
As David Eby, British Columbia attorney, rightly explained in an email:
So long as single-event sports betting is criminalized in Canada, Canadians who engage in this type of betting online do so in a completely unregulated and potentially unsafe way, with few or no responsible gambling protections or enforced-age restrictions,” David Eby said in an emailed statement.
In Canada, this issue is better addressed with good policy and law-developed discussion between provinces and the federal government, instead of an abrupt court decision as the Americans are currently grappling with.
While the current U.S Supreme Court ruling spells out bad news for Canada – it could actually prove to be a fantastic opportunity for the country.
Will Canada sink or swim when it comes to sports betting in 2018?
Only time can tell.