Canada to Consider Legalizing Sportsbooks in Casinos?
Canadian gambling advocates are calling for pro-sports betting legislation, now that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the PASPA federal ban on sportsbetting in 46 U.S. states. Canadian proponents say legalized sports betting will save jobs and tax revenues at casinos near the Canada-US border.
The Canadian Criminal Code allows betting on propositions which involve two or more sporting event, but that is a major stipulation which makes all the difference.
Columnist Jim Warren of the Toronto Sun called for the legalization of single-event sports betting.
Picking the winner on two or more sporting events (parlay betting) is much harder than picking a single event. Experienced sports bettors can tell novices how difficult picking even one game is, because bookmakers know the game much better than most bettors.
Jim Warren on Canadian Sportsbooks
Jim Warren said that Canadian casinos along the border have discussed approving such wagers for years, in hopes of drawing American sports bettors to their casinos. With the advent of legalized sportsbooks in dozens of US states, including possible wagering in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York, many believe the time has come to legalize sportsbooks in land-based casinos.
One can see why. If two casinos exist — one on each side of the international border — then the one with the most betting options is going to have the advantage. For instance, Caesars Windsors in Ontario, Canada is only 7 miles from downtown Detroit. Soon, Detroit’s three metropolitan casinos — MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino Hotel, and Greektown Casino-Hotel — all could offer legal sports bets to customers.
Would Canadians Bet in US Sportsbooks?
A Canadian sports fan living along the international border could make a short trip to Detroit to bet on NHL hockey, Toronto Raptors games, or Toronto Blue Jays games. Within the time one might take to buy groceries, sports gamblers could bet on their favorite franchises — and the sports propositions they think they know best.
Not every gambler enjoys sports betting. For those that do, legal US sports betting would be a huge draw. Some of those wagerers might stay in the casino and play at the slots, the roulette wheel, or the blackjack table. Over time, not legalizing sports gambling would cost Canadian gaming operators revenues. In fact, their customer database would shrink over time.
2012 Canadian Sports Betting Bill
The idea is not a new one in Canada. Jim Warren noted that the NDP backed a sports legalization bill in 2012. All major political parties backed the bill. Nine Canadian provinces with land-based casinos backed the proposal, which is the requirement to pass such a bill.
Despite a powerful coalition backing a sports betting bill, the Canadian Senate was able to stal the legislation until 2015, when the General Election changed the dynamics. Last year, the NDP once again introduced a sports legalization bill and planned to introduce it to the Commons Justice Committee for Research and Consultation.
2017 Canadian Sports Betting Bill
Again, nine provinces supported the bill. This time, the liberals opposed sports legalization, though they supported such a proposal while in opposition. That leaves Canadian sports betting in limbo at a time when the United States gaming industry might be ready to take the lead.
All things being equal, it is in the nature of customers to remain loyal. Thus, if Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York legalize sports betting, Canadians will flock to US sportsbooks to make wagers. They’ll join the slots clubs and enter US casinos’ databases, where they’ll receive marketing mail and emails. It is no certainty, if at some later time Canada approves sportsbooks, that those customers will return to Canadian casinos.