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Bill introduced by Saskatchewan MP would legalize single-event sports betting

Click to play video 'Saskatoon – Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh’s new bill for sports betting' Saskatoon – Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh’s new bill for sports betting
Saskatoon-Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh's new bill for sports betting – Mar 2, 2020

A Saskatchewan Conservative MP is reviving a private member’s bill to allow betting on single-event sports.

Kevin Waugh, who represents Saskatoon-Grasswood, said the bill would amend the Criminal Code to legalize single-event wagering and stem the flow of illegal betting in the country.

READ MORE: Americans can now bet legally on Super Bowl for first time across U.S.

Waugh said only $500 million is bet legally in the country through Sports Line and Pro-Select, which are run by provincial lottery corporations.

“Every year, black market bookmakers and offshore gambling sites generate over $14 billion in illegal revenues, none of which is regulated, taxed or invested back into Canadian communities,” Waugh said.

“Instead of lining the pockets of gangs and criminals, simple legislation can regulate sports wagering as a tool for governments to drive positive investment in their communities.”

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This is the third time the bill has been introduced.

The first time was in 2012, when it was accepted by the House of Commons, but died on the order paper in 2015 due to the federal election.

It was then brought forward in the last Parliament but did not make it out of the House of Commons.

READ MORE: U.S. overturning ban on sports betting means Canadian gaming could fall behind — experts

Waugh said his bill would also allow the sports wagering industry to be properly regulated, a move supported by the CFL.

“Under the stewardship of the Provincial Lottery Corporations and various provincial regulators, parlay sports betting in Canada has operated at the highest levels of integrity,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement.

“Single event sports wagering, today, is out of their purview and therefore needs to be legalized to provide our fans the opportunity to engage under the same level of integrity as they do today with parlay wagering.”

The Canadian Gaming Association is also backing the bill.

The association’s CEO, Paul Burns, said failing to act could threaten jobs for communities near the U.S. border.

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“The Canadian gaming industry has world-renowned programs for responsible gaming and some of the best regulatory oversight in existence,” Burns said in a release.

“We can’t afford to ignore the issue and continue with laws that are outdated, non-competitive and afford no consumer protection.”

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Waugh said he has multi-party support for the bill, which is number seven on the private member list.

“I know I have support from both sides of the House. I’ve started my advocacy work and (with) the Liberals, many of them around that casino area of Windsor and Niagara Falls,” Waugh said.

“They know this is big for jobs in that area and they would want this bill.”

Waugh said the bill will be up for debate towards the end of March.