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Sask. MP introduces single-event sports betting bill

3rd March, 19:47

SASKATOON -- Saskatoon-Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh is aiming to make single-event sports betting a reality in Canada.

Last week he introduced the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act in the House of Commons, which would see an amendment to Canada's Criminal Code to allow for single-game betting, which is currently illegal.

"The government would be in charge of this, all I'm doing is taking a line out of the Criminal Code of Canada to allow single bets," Waugh said. "Then it falls back in the provincial and territorial jurisdiction. The Western Canada Lottery Corporation, they then would decide, along with the provincial governments, how to regulate single-game betting."

According to the Canadian Gaming Association, Canadians wager over $14 billion a year on sports, but only $500 million is wagered legally through the provincial sports lottery parlay wagering programs. The group estimates that an excess of $10 billion annually is bet illegally through local bookmaking operations run by organized crime.

Waugh said having single-event betting regulated by provincial governments would boost the economy, as well as provide help to those with gambling addictions.

"We have to deal with the addictions in this country," he said. "Right now, $500 million is being bet legally in this country. Out of that, the provincial governments take a portion of that to deal with addictions. That's good, but what's not good is $14 billion being bet illegally in this country [that] is not going toward any program whatsoever. It's going offshore, it's going into gang activity, and that's not helping the addictions in this country.

"But the provincial governments now could take a portion, a big portion if this bill passes, to set up better addiction centres in this country to help those that certainly need the help."

CTV News has reached out to the Saskatchewan government for comment.

Waugh said he's had meetings with the National Hockey League, the Professional Golfers Association, and the National Basketball Association since putting forth the bill.

"They're all excited," he said. "Years ago the professional leagues did not want to see this regulated, they did not believe in single-game betting. But that changed in 2018."

In May of that year, a United States Supreme Court victory allowed any state to legalize sports betting.

"In Ontario where you have casinos like Niagra Falls and Windsor, they're competing now with Michigan and New York State," Waugh said. "They're losing a lot of money."

It could all happen soon, according to Waugh.

"I would say within four to five weeks, we'll know if Canada will in fact head this way like the United States has since 2018."