Canadian Sports Bill Stuck in Senate

A new Canadian law C-290, that would give individual provinces the right to allow single-game sports betting and which passed without problems in the Commons, is now stuck in the Senate on its third and final reading into law.

The proposed legislation seeks to repeal the Criminal Code section that prohibits betting on a single-race, fight, sporting event or athletic contest.

When earlier this week Canadian senators returned from a short break, some of them have indicated that the bill would be strongly opposed and the debate have not been taken at all.

Sen. Linda Frum, one of the senators who expressed concern about the lack of debate in the Commons, said: "It kind of flew through the House without a great deal of scrutiny. It had one day at committee, and they really didn't study the bill. They didn't invite the stakeholders who will be impacted by the bill. So I'm not sure it really had the proper level of study or scrutiny."

Opposing the proposal, professional sports leagues argue that single-game betting could open a Pandora's Box of match-fixing and social problems associated with gambling.

The National Hockey League went even further in explaining its opinion: "We firmly believe that legalized sports betting threatens to compromise integrity, and that the single-game betting scheme that Bill C-290 seeks to decriminalize poses a particularized and unique threat in that regard."

NHL thinks that: "Such wagering poses perhaps the greatest threat to the integrity of our games, since it is far easier to engage in 'match fixing' in order to win single-game bets than it is in cases of parlay betting (as currently exists in Canada), where bets are determined on the basis of multiple game outcomes."

C-290 was last addressed by the Senate 10 sitting days ago and is fast approaching the 15 sitting days deadline by which it must have been further debated. If not, the measure could be removed from the Order Paper, forcing its re-introduction through the Commons.

That is what Liberal Senator Joe Day hopes for saying that he expected the majority Conservatives would let C-290 'die a natural death.' Conservative and Liberal senators believe they have sufficient opposing numbers to stop the proposal if necessary, and it would be a precedent that the Upper Chamber has rejected legislation unanimously passed by members of Parliament.

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