Canadian Bill C-290

Bill C-290 was a proposed bill that did not become a law. It was first introduced in the 41st Parliament. This enactment was shooting to replace 207(4)(b) of the Canadian Criminal Code and make it lawful for a person or entity licensed by a province to conduct and manage a lottery scheme that involves betting on a single sporting event or athlete. This bill unanimously passed in the House of Commons and was sent to the Senate in March 2012 where it sat for 3 years before it died after the federal election of 2015.

Joe Comartin And The New Democratic Party

Bill C-290 was initially proposed as a private member’s bill in hopes of becoming a Canadian gambling law by Joe Comartin a Canadian lawyer and politician. Later in his political career, he joined the New Democratic Party (NDP) and represented the party from 2000 to 2015 in the Canadian House of Commons. Comartin first introduced the bill in 2011 and it was substantially sent to the Senate in 2012. ­If the proposed bill was to pass it would allow provinces to make legislative changes and allow gamblers to bet on a single game at a time instead of multiple games. After the bill sat in the Senate and did not get passed Comartin stated: “It is shameful the opposition that has come from within the Senate”. Comartin truly believed that the changes would have saved some jobs and created more opportunities across Canada. Comartin retired from the House of Commons in 2015, a couple of years after the bill had been shot down by the Senate.

The Opposition

Brian Masse was another member of the New Democratic Party and he called sports betting “a windfall for organized crime”. Many members of the New Democratic Party feel the same way and believe that legalizing single-game sports betting would cut off a substantial amount of income generated by organized crime operations. Canadian conservative Senator Vern White was a vocal opponent to Bill C-290, he told CBC’s Rosemary Barton that Canada does not need more gambling. He was also very vocal about his stance on organized crime and said that just because organized crime operations were taking sports bets doesn’t mean the law should be changed. He was also recorded as stating that “If we followed the line of thinking of Brian Masse, we would legalize cocaine and heroin, too”. Senator Vern White is a former chief of the Ottawa Police Service and during his career, he also served for 24 years in the ranks of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Bill C-221 The Second Effort

The Canadian Gaming Association says that Canadians spend an average of $450 million a year on parlay bets but more than $4 Billion a year on single-game bets from illegal bookies and offshore sportsbooks. With a National debt totaling over $30 billion, many Canadians see no reason to let that money slip overseas or into organized crime operations. Bill C-221 was a shell of Bill C-290 except for this time the bill was introduced by Windsor West MP Brian Masse. Masse stated that he can see no benefit letting organized crime rake in billions of dollars. He believes that legalizing marijuana and allowing single sports betting would cripple the organized crime operations in Canada. Bill C-221 didn’t make it to a Senate hearing as it was shot down by the House of Commons in 2016 by a vote of 156-133.

Parlay Bets And Legal Canadian Sports Betting

Since Bill C-290 and its predecessor C-221 both got shot down during the hearing process, Canadian punters are stuck with placing parlay bets on sporting activities for the time being. Since a 1910 amendment was put in place, parlay betting on sports has been legal through the Canadian Criminal Code. The Criminal Code currently states that it is illegal for Canadians to bet on a single sporting event or athletic contest and only authorized operators can process parlay bets for multiple sporting events.

An example would be if you were betting on the NHL, in Canada, you can’t just bet on the Calgary Flames to win the game. Operators are only allowed to accept bets on 3 or more games. Punters would have to wager on Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Boston to win their games, to place a single parlay bet. If any of the teams lose or don’t cover the spread, then the whole parlay bet is a loss. If they all win, like the punter predicted, the bet is a win. Parlay winning bets usually result in big payouts compared to single-game bets, but you also must successfully predict the outcome of multiple games.

Because of the parlay stipulation, many Canadians wager online with licensed offshore sportsbooks that will accept single game bets. Domestic sports betting is illegal when not licensed by a Canadian provincial government, but most punters still choose to bet with licensed offshore online sportsbooks that will accept Canadian registrations mainly for their single game bet options.