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Canada – Canadian association angered by Senate’s stance

By - 1 July 2013

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) has expressed its frustration and disappointment that the Senate chose not to deal with Bill C290 – An Act to Amend the Criminal Code – Sports Betting, before rising for the summer recess.

Bill C290 was already passed with all-party support in the House of Commons, and has the additional backing of nine provinces. The CGA, together with provincial lottery corporations and leaders in the Canadian Gaming industry, had hoped that the Senate would work together to approve a private members bill that would give Canadians a better option than turning to illegal bookmakers or offshore operators to place bets.

Bill Rutsey, CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, said: “Continued shameful inaction and procedural delaying tactics by the Senators only serves to fuel organised crime and illegal offshore bookmakers, because they are the ones who profit from illegal single-event wagering. Again, I reiterate that we are talking about tens of billions of dollars leaving Canada and ending up in the hands of criminals. The Senate is obviously comfortable with this outcome, as they don’t see any urgency in dealing with the problem.”

“What we are witnessing, unfortunately, is an unaccountable Senate that prefers to debate the morality of gaming and not the dangerous status quo that they are in no hurry to fix,” Mr. Rutsey continued. “So while they waste time questioning whether or not people should gamble – a question that has been asked and answered decades ago – we watch more money leave the country, which means more Canadians are engaging in risky and unsafe behaviour. I remain shocked that the Senate doesn’t consider this an issue worth its attention.”

Also stagnating is the opportunity to create real economic benefits for Canadians and our communities. By offering legal single-event sports wagering, lottery corporations would once again possess a distinctive competitive advantage over American casinos, as well as generate jobs and additional remunerations.

The association says that Bill C290 is a simple amendment to the Criminal Code to permit wagering on the outcome of single sporting events. Canadians are currently only permitted to make parlay bets (wagering on the outcome of three or more events) which is an unpopular choice for many people. The proof,  according to the CGA, is in the amount of money leaving the country, outside of the jurisdictions of lottery corporations.

“Unlike the Senators, we will not stop working during the summer,” concluded Mr. Rutsey. “The accumulator on C290NOW.ca will continue to tabulate the leakage from the Canadian economy and contribution to organised crime sanctioned by the Senate’s inaction, we will engage more stakeholders who support the bill, and we will continue to press our case to protect Canadians, help our communities, and stop criminal activity.”

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