Canadians are calling on the government to legalise single event sports betting.
Following the revelation Major League Baseball (MLB) is now willing to reverse it’s 2012 stance against sports betting, a Canadian media commentator is suggesting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal government do the same.
A NDP private member’s bill, which supports sports betting, has been in circulation since 2012, and the most recent movement saw the Trudeau Liberals voting against it late last year.
The failure of the bill, despite support from nine provinces, was reportedly due to the long-standing conflict with professional baseball.
But just this month, MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, said it will re-examine its stance against sports betting.
“There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting,” Manfred said.
“We are re-examining our stance on gambling. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing.”
MLB’s position is backed up by match-fixing scandals and gambling incidents involving players over the years, but Manfred also recognises betting still occurs in unregulated industries.
According to the Canadian Gaming Association, Canadians bet around $10 billion at illegal bookmakers located in Canada, while $4 billion is wagered at offshore online sites. These bets are made without any regulatory framework to protect the punters.
“Sports betting happens,” Manfred said.
“Whether it’s legalised here or not, it’s happening out there.
“So I think the question for sports is really, ‘Are we better off in a world where we have a nice, strong, uniform, federal regulation of gambling that protects the integrity of sports, provides sports with the tools to ensure that there is integrity in the competition … Or are we better off closing our eyes to that and letting it go on as illegal gambling?’
“And that’s a debatable point.”
Other sporting leagues share similar opinions, with NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, detailing his opinion in the New York Times.
“The laws on sports betting should be changed,” he said.
“Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorise betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards … sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”
The economy would also benefit if Canada legalised and regulated sports betting, including job creation.
It would also help problem gamblers through a regulated system with substantial resources provided by the government.