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Update

Friday, February 19, 2021

On February 17, 2021, the Canadian House of Commons passed Bill C-218 (“C-218”), a private member’s bill which aims to decriminalize all types of single-event sports betting in Canada. C-218 passed by a vote of 303 yeas to only 15 nays. It will now be sent to the Justice Committee before moving to the Senate and ultimately to the Governor General for Royal Assent. 

Our previous update on the subject provided a detailed summary on the government’s own bill to decriminalize certain types of single-event sports betting, Bill C-13 (”C-13”). While both C-13 and C-218 aim to decriminalize single-event sports betting, C-218 aims to do so by repealing the entirety of paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code, the provision that makes single-event sports betting a criminal act. On the other hand, C-13 proposes to decriminalize the practice by amending paragraph 207(4)(b), rather than repeal it, and seeks to maintain the current regulatory regime regarding wagering on horse-racing. Importantly, C-218 is farther along in the legislative process, having passed a second reading in the House of Commons, whereas C-13 has only passed a first reading.

On February 18, 2021, the Speaker of the House of Commons decided that C-13 will not proceed as long as C-218 continues through the legislative process given that it has advanced farther. The Speaker noted that C-13 could not proceed as it would seek to amend a paragraph of the Criminal Code that would no longer exist once C-218 is adopted.

If C-218 receives Royal Assent, it will be up to the provinces to decide how to implement and regulate single-event sports betting. The House of Commons’ decision to pass C-218 has continued to strengthen enthusiasm within Canada’s capital markets. Score Media and Gaming Inc. (TSX: SCR), a leader in sports media and gaming, referred to the passing of C-218 as a move towards a “much-needed modernized sports betting framework [in Canada].” Real Luck Group Ltd. (TSXV: LUCK), an award-winning betting company, characterized the passing of C-218 as a significant step in offering safer betting to millions of Canadian sports and (e)Sports fans.

Market participants have estimated that the potential market for online gaming in Canada is between $4.8 billion and $6.8 billion.

If you have any questions with respect to the matters discussed above, please contact Michael Rennie at mrennie@wildlaw.ca, Brendan Wu at bwu@wildlaw.ca or any other member of our Entertainment, Media, (e)Sports and Gaming practice group.

This update is intended as a summary only and should not be regarded or relied upon as advice to any specific client or regarding any specific situation.

If you would like further information regarding the issues discussed in this update or if you wish to discuss any aspect of this commentary, please feel free to contact us.

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