While Canadian gaming advocates have been pleased with the rapid developments in legislation on single-event sports betting in recent weeks, supporters of a closely watched bill will have to wait until after Christmas for political leaders to complete a key procedural step.
On Friday, members of the House of Commons of Canada adjourned for the Christmas break without hearing debate on single-game sports wagering. Debate on the bill, C-13, is expected to resume in late January when House members return from vacation.
Unlike previous incarnations over the last decade, the bill appears to have garnered widespread bipartisan support across both sides of the aisle. This week, however, House debate concerning expanded access to medical assistance in dying took precedence, and efforts to advance the gambling legislation stalled.
“It’s not a huge deal, as the bill can be picked up in January with no threats to it,” a Canadian gambling expert told Sports Handle. “We were never certain about a vote before [Christmas]. It doesn’t require lengthy debate, so it can move quickly.”
Prior to this week’s session, there was some optimism among supporters of the bill that it could be passed in the House before the end of the calendar year. Their optimism grew after Justice Minister David Lametti introduced the legislation on Nov. 26, when the bill received first reading. The Canadian parliamentary system requires a bill to go through three readings in the House of Commons before it is adopted and sent to the Senate.
The bill seeks to amend Section 202 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which prohibits single-game sports betting. Another section, Section 204, contains an exemption that allows provincial governments to offer parlay wagers through a lottery scheme.
“We are pleased to see the support that the bill has received since it’s been introduced, and we hope that all leaders will work together to pass these changes expeditiously,” a spokesperson for Lametti’s office wrote in a statement provided to Sports Handle.