The years-long push for legalized single-event sports betting in Canada has felt like a marathon for staunch supporters – but suddenly the finish line feels like it’s within reach.
Last week, Bill C-218 passed a second reading vote, taking another important step forward in the process to decriminalize single-event sports betting. It’s expected that the Justice Committee will hear debates on the Bill C-218 this week.
Bill C-218 must still pass several more stages before it can become law in Canada, but with the finish line now in sight, the conversation around single-event sports betting is slowly shifting from ‘if and when’ towards ‘how.’
Amidst the discussion about legalizing single-event sports betting, here’s a cold dose of reality: B.C. players are already making this type of bet. They’re doing it either on grey-market websites that are operating illegally in B.C., or by heading south of the border to Washington State casinos – neither of which share profits with the Province of B.C or prioritize the health of players.
If the federal government legalizes single-event sports betting, BCLC anticipates an additional $125 million to $175 million in revenue to support community programs, healthcare and education in B.C. But more importantly, we know that the regulated gambling organizations throughout the provinces and territories are best suited to offer it in a way that safeguards the health of players.
In this province, robust player-health safeguards are already embedded into PlayNow.com, B.C.’s only regulated online gambling site. In fact, PlayNow.com is the only gambling website in North America and one of few in the world with dedicated player-health specialists, known as GameSense Advisors, available via chat and telephone to support players with healthy play habits.
GameSense Advisors are also in every B.C. casino and community gaming centre. They provide invaluable information and resources to players about how all the games work and their odds, and would be an additional resource to support healthy play through the enhanced sports-betting opportunities that will open up along with single-bet legalization.
For years B.C. players have asked for the opportunity to place legal single-event sports bets. BCLC is already at the table and ready to offer this to our players in a safe and responsible way.
It’s time for the federal government to pass Bill C-218 and make this a reality. •
Stewart Groumoutis is director of eGaming operations for the British Columbia Lottery Corp.