Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights decides to amend sport-betting bill

·2 min read

TORONTO — The private members bill aimed at making single-game sports betting legal in Canada was amended Thursday to offer protection to the country's horse-racing industry.

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights amended Bill C-218 so that fixed odds wagering on horse racing would not be permitted.

"This is great news for the horse racing industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it supports across Canada,” Jim Lawson, CEO, Woodbine Entertainment, said in a statement. "On behalf of the industry, thank you to the Standing Committee for listening to our perspective and recognizing the need to protect horse racing from unintended consequences caused by the legalization of sports betting."

The bill, introduced by Conservative MP Kevin Waugh is being scrutinized by the House of Commons justice committee. It would amend Criminal Code provisions that prohibit gambling on single games of football, hockey and other sports.

Betting on single games or competitions is currently illegal for all sports except horse-racing.

The industry is generally supportive of the bill but is wary of organizations licensed to offer legal sports betting to also offer fixed odds betting on horse racing without contributing to the substantial costs of operating live racing. Unlike other sports, horse racing’s entire business model is built on using revenue from wagering to sustain the industry.

The amended bill will now proceed to third reading in the House of Commons and, if passed, will then head to the Senate for review.

"As the legislation process continues, our industry will remain active to ensure the protections remain in the bill through the Senate process," Lawson said. "We also recognize that with this potential emergence of sports betting in the near future, our industry will face increased competition in the legal wagering market and must pursue additional sources of revenue to further protect our industry."

Woodbine Entertainment will also continue advocating for the legalization of historical horse racing, offering betting on races that already

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press