Calls for sport betting continue in Canada

Heading into the 2009 NHL play-offs season, calls continue for legalized, sports betting, both in Canada and in the United States. In July of 2008, the Ontario government released a letter it had sent to the federal government, seeking an amendment to the Criminal Code that would permit single game sport betting.

Other provinces have made similar requests to the federal government. In the U.S. Delaware, one of three US States grandfathered under federal law permitted to have legalized sports wagering is considering a bill to authorize sports gambling and is expected to be introduced in that state’s legislature this Spring. Governor Jack Markall is open to the idea of legalizing sports betting as a potential solution to Delaware’s USD 700 million budget shortfall.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) estimated illegal US sports wagering at USD 380 billion annually. Canadians are spending USD 700 million – USD 1 billion annually online, predominantly on Poker and sports wagering. Its clear sports wagering is extremely popular among sports fans. Gross legal sports wagering in Nevada’s sports books was USD 2.59 billion in 2007.

USA Today estimated over USD 8 billion was wagered in the United States on the Super Bowl in 2007 with just over USD 92 million of that wagered legally in Nevada. One of the biggest potential benefits from expanding the availability of legal sports betting is enhanced tourism opportunities.

A panel at this year’s Canadian Gaming Summit will discuss sports betting in various jurisdictions and consider the likelihood of legalization of sports betting in Canada, and what non-financial public benefits might result from such a change. As a warm up, watch CTV’s interview with Bill Rutsey, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, who says legalizing sports betting would take a large amount away from the underground economy.