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Senate To Debate Sports Betting

Published: November 27, 2012 8:26 am ET

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On Tuesday Canada's Senate will begin to debate Bill C-290, which could pave the way to legalize single-game sports betting.

In the OMAFRA Panel transition report, one option for offsetting the severed partnership with Ontario's government and its slots at racetracks program alluded to racetracks providing a sportsbook as well. Racing, it was suggested, would get a cut of sports wagers in the same way that it currently receives a cut of slots.

Last month on Trot Radio, Senator Bob Runciman voiced his thoughts on the private member's bill to legalize single event sports betting and bundle it with the racetrack experience. Runciman is the Chair of the Legal Committee and according to him the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) does not want Ontario's racetracks to get in on this action.

"I know one element that certainly New Jersey is looking at in terms of single-event betting is allowing the sports books to be located in the racetracks. And that's another area, if this legislation passes in the Federal House, I think this is something we should be pressing on not just the current government - likely we're going to have a provincial election in the Spring - and I think we should be getting all parties on side with a platform that deals with all of these gaming issues."

While sports betting is currently legal through the OLG and its Pro-Line product as a multi-game parlay wager, the ability to wager on only one game or event is not permitted in Canada and only allowed in one U.S. state - Nevada. Estimates indicate that sports betting totals could be as much as $10 billion a year, all going to offshore betting sites.

Runciman told the CBC he expects debate on the bill to take weeks with a vote possibly at the end of December. Since it's a private member's bill, the vote will be a free vote.

If the bill passes, provinces would decide on whether or not single-game sports wagering would be offered.

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