23 March 2021 Posted By : Geoff Zochodne

'We are missing out': As another Super Bowl passes, calls to punt single-game betting ban are getting louder

When the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers square off this Sunday in the Super Bowl, many in the Canadian gambling industry will be hoping it’s the end of an era.

The hope is not that Bucs quarterback Tom Brady rides off into the sunset after winning another championship, but rather that the National Football League finale is the last one played with Canada’s ban on single-event sports betting still in place.

The prohibition means legal sports bets in this country require a “parlay,” or wagering on the outcome of at least two different events, a restriction aimed at easing concerns around match fixing. It is also a ban that is living on borrowed time, as the federal government, provinces, professional sports leagues and the gaming industry are all aiming to have it overturned.

However, while there is broad support for ending the ban, it hasn’t actually been lifted, meaning Canadian governments will lose out on another chunk of single-game Super Bowl betting revenue to offshore websites and other, perhaps more nefarious, places. Moreover, the ongoing delay comes as companies are champing at the bit to tap the Canadian sports-betting market, if and when they’re invited.

Adding to the frustration is that Canada might be the closest it’s ever been to overturning the single-game betting ban, as there is government-backed legislation awaiting passage in Ottawa that would bring about its end. Meanwhile, a 2018 decision by the United States’ Supreme Court has allowed legalized sports betting to take off there, including in states that border Canada and compete for business with this country’s casino towns.

“Sunday is the biggest betting day in this country, and we are missing out (on) millions of dollars for our communities,” Saskatchewan MP Kevin Waugh said Friday during a parliamentary debate on his private member’s bill, which would also legalize single-game sports betting in Canada.

Canada’s potential take is indeed large. The Canadian Gaming Association estimated in 2015 that more than $150 million would be wagered illegally in the country during Super Bowl weekend, a number that CGA president and CEO Paul Burns says will be at least that this year.

“It’s significant money,” Burns said in an interview. “Others will benefit from it again this year, and that’s unfortunate.”

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