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Canada May Legalize Sportsbetting

August 1, 2008 ( — In Canada, the Federal Government has signalled its receptiveness to proposals that would lift the current criminal ban on betting on individual sporting events at casinos.

The government has been under pressure from casinos and the province of Ontario to reverse the Criminal Code prohibition in order to help the dwindling fortunes of gaming establishments, particularly those near the US border that have been drawing fewer Americans.

"I have encouraged provinces that we have in the past responded to requests to change the laws as they relate to betting," said Rob Nicholson, the Minister for Justice. "If they want to engage stakeholders then I am prepared to listen."

Nicholson is also a Member of Parliament for Niagara Falls on the American border, home of two casinos that could benefit from a change in the law.

However, he stated that any changes would require a consensus between the nation's ten provinces and three territories "because it would affect all of them, of course". In addition, he stated that allowing sportsbetting would take a backseat to his current priorities, which included getting tougher on drug dealers and young people in trouble with the law.

Many Canadian casinos are already equipped with lounges equipped with giant television and scoreboards but gambling is limited to government-run lottery schemes that permit betting on groups of sports rather than on one individual match.

Those found to have broken the current Criminal Code on bookmaking could be subject to a maximum two-year sentence in prison but the law is filled with a broad range of exceptions including government-run sports lotteries such as Pro-Line, Sports Action and Sports Select.

Legalised sportsbetting in Canada would be a draw for Americans, who cannot legally wager on games unless they travel to Nevada, the only state that allows sports wagering.


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