In a highly anticipated move, Canada’s parliament on Wednesday approved wagering on individual sporting events, paving the way for eventual introduction in provinces and territories.
Bill C-218, legislation introduced last year by Member of Parliament Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon-Grasswood), was voted on and easily passed upon second reading in the House of Commons with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voting in favor of the motion.
Bill C-13 was previously introduced by the federal government and would legalize single-game betting at the national level. The House of Commons is expected to take up that legislation over the near-term. With Wednesday’s decision, Canada modernizes a sports wagering system in dire need of refreshing. For years, sports wagering was essentially “legal” in the country, but gamblers could only wager on parlays.
We expect that the legalization of single event sports betting will facilitate the introduction by provinces and territories of a much-needed modernized sports betting framework in their respective jurisdictions that can include important consumer protections and the ability to generate new revenue streams for provincial and territorial governments,” said Score Media and Gaming CEO John Levy in a statement.
C-13 is slated for its second reading on Friday and like C-218, it’s widely expected to pass. From there, it will be left to Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories to decide how single-game wagering will be rolled to prospective bettors.
Boon for Select Operators
As is the case in the US when various states join the legal sports betting fray, Canada’s decision is a win for some operators.
Score Media, the company behind the theScore mobile betting app, immediately comes to behind because it holds dominant market share in its home country. In fact, the timing of parliament’s decision couldn’t be better for the gaming company. Last week, the operator said it’s engineering a reverse split of its over-the-counter-traded stock in hopes of landing a listing on the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange.
When Waugh’s bill was introduced last year, Wall Street analysts speculated that among US-based companies, Bally’s (NYSE:BALY), DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) and Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) are potential winners.
Penn holds a 4.7 percent equity stake in Score Media. For its part, DraftKings has been preparing for Canada movement, recently announcing a deal with the NFL to expand a daily fantasy sports (DFS) and content agreement into the country.
Big Market Potential
Score Media estimates Canada’s online gaming market could be worth $3.8 billion to $5.4 billion, a forecast “based on historical data extrapolated from legal online gaming markets in the U.S. and globally.”
If the high end of that forecast is translated to handle, the country would have outpaced every live and legal US state last year except for New Jersey.
Canada has 37.59 million citizens, or nearly two million fewer than California. With its own football league, six NHL teams and one team apiece in Major League Baseball and the NBA coupled with Canadians’ affinity for US teams, the country is a potentially fertile market for sportsbook operators.
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