Liberals Shoot Down Single-Event Gambling Bill

The gambling world was recently stunned when the Ottawa federal government voted down a bill that would have legalized betting in single sporting events in Canada. This bill was brought up by Brian Masse, the MP for Windsor West. It was read a second time on Tuesday and debated on in the same day.

The idea behind the bill was to allow people in Canada to legally bet on single sporting events to not only increase the entertainment options in the country, but to help raise more money in the lucrative gambling market.

A Look At The Controversy
This bill, the “Safe And Regulated Sports Betting Act” looked as if it would have the favor of most of congress, but a shocking change by the Federal Liberals saw them vote against the bill, rather than for it.

This change was surprising to many who had watched a similar bill by the Liberals die a slow death in the Senate. After receiving the go-ahead into the Senate in 2009, it was killed off after three years of waiting, leaving the bill dead in the water.

Political experts expected the Liberals to jump at the chance to get a similar bill approved. Those who had anticipated Liberal support were shocked and upset by their turnaround. However, the change didn’t surprise Masse, who had this to say:

“With the Liberals, you’ve just got to be prepared for them switching position.”

Why The Liberals Opposed The Bill
The bill’s supporters were very frustrated by this move, believing that they would get a free vote on the bill. However, the Liberal government announced, through Liberal MP Sean Casey that “The government will be opposing the bill,” though the Tories allowed a free vote.

During the debate, Casey said that the federal government was concerned that the “integrity of sporting events” would be affected by the new law. Concerns over players betting on games and throwing them for payoffs were discussed, as was the idea that fans and coaches would be more concerned about betting than they were actually competing in the game.

Casey said: “It is possible, as suggested by many sports leagues, that legalizing single-event sports betting could encourage gamblers to fix games…The current parlay system of betting makes it unattractive to fix a game, because the only way to achieve a guaranteed payout would be to rig multiple events…”

He also quoted the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in a study performed in Ontario that found that those who made less than $20,000 a year were, while the least likely to gamble, were also the most likely to experience serious monetary concerns when they did. He added that “Opposing this bill means protecting our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Possible Fallout
Unfortunately, this failed bill could cost the gambling industry millions, if not billions, of dollars in possible revenue. Currently, people can only bet on multiple games, which limits the attractiveness of the activity and turns way many possible bettors.

Could another bill like this appear in the future? Undoubtedly. Will the Liberal government express similar doubts about it? It’s hard to say, given their back-and-forth experience on the issue.

Written by: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson has been reporting for for more than 8 years. He studied journalism at UGC and has published two books on how journalism influences the world.

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