Advocacy is important work for the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), as the CGA’s efforts have helped to shape public policy and expand access to gaming while pushing back against misinformation that too often appears in the media. The CGA’s objective is to encourage appropriate regulatory reform and modernization to meet the changing needs of Canada’s gaming industry through consultation with stakeholders to identify issues of common cause.
When Canada’s gaming industry shut down in mid-March 2020, the CGA immediately pivoted into advocacy efforts and has been actively communicating with governments at the provincial and federal levels to ensure that support for our industry and its employees is available.
- Direct advocacy with the Federal Government for industry inclusion in the BDC Business Loan Program / extensions to the Canadian Employee Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
- Worked with the CGAO, AGCO and OLG to develop an overarching health & safety framework for gaming in Ontario.
- Secured access and preferred member pricing for rapid COVID-19 testing products and other health & safety products.
National Advocacy Networks
The CGA is a member of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Canadian Business Resilience Network and continues to advocate for government programs to help the industry.
We are also an active member of the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable (CTTR), a national coalition of associations representing the hospitality, travel, tourism, entertainment and attraction sectors.
The CTTR advocates for targeted sector support measures from the Federal Government and meets bi-weekly with government and political leaders to press for continued relief measures.
The CGA invests in a variety of research to ensure that current and factual information is available and easily sharable. Here you will find fact sheets, reports, proprietary studies, and infographics covering a wide range of topics from the economic impact of the Canadian gaming industry to the attitudes of leaders who have opened casinos in their communities.
The CGA acts as a resource to the industry with its advocacy efforts. Policy positions are identified based on discussions with stakeholders to identify issues that would benefit multiple provinces and/or lottery corporations. Single-event sports wagering is a current example of the CGA advocating with the federal government on legislative issues affecting the industry.
Other policy positions that the CGA has been involved with include:
- Resolving a potentially restrictive proposal from the Television Bureau of Canada relating to gaming advertising guidelines;
- Defeating a bill in Parliament that would have restricted gaming devices to facilities of a certain (and larger) size; and
- Meeting with senior federal Department of Finance officials and making written submissions regarding proposed amendments to the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act as it relates to casinos, and testifying before a Senate Committee on the subject.
Single-Event Sports Wagering
Brief History of Bills C-290 and C-221
Bill C-290, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code – Sports Betting, was introduced into the House of Commons in September 2011 by the Honourable Joe Comartin, M.P. for Windsor Tecumseh, and initially passed the House of Commons with all-party support. It was studied and debated in the Senate over a three-year period but was never voted on, and it died on the order paper when Parliament was dissolved for the general election in 2015.
Bill C-221, The Safe & Regulated Sports Wagering Act, was defeated by a vote of 156-133 at second reading in the House of Commons in September 2016.
The demise of both Bill C-290 and Bill C-221 means that the current parlay system remains in place. Both C-290 and C-221 were Private Member’s Bills (PMBs).
Bills C-218, C-13 & Current Activities
In February 2020 Honourable Kevin Waugh, MP for Saskatoon-Grasswood, introduced Bill C-218, The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act in Parliament as a PMB. COVID-19 disrupted Parliamentary business however a joint statement from the commissioners of the major sports leagues (National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Canadian Football League (CFL)) was submitted to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Premiers of all Canadian provinces.
When Parliament was prorogued in Summer 2020, all PMBs were paused. Bill C-218 had its first hour of debate in the House of Commons on November 3, 2020. On November 26, 2020 the Minister of Justice tabled Bill C-13 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code – Sports Betting. The new Bill is much the same as previous bills with the exception that it excludes horse racing. The second hour of debate on Bill C-13 is scheduled for December 11, 2020.
The expectation is that by introducing a government Bill, the process will move quickly and that we may be in a position by Spring 2021 to have the requested change to the Criminal Code occur.
Cullen Commission on Money Laundering
The Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in BC was launched by the provincial government to examine the extent, growth, evolution and methods of money laundering in various sectors such as gaming and horse racing, real estate, financial services, luxury goods and professional services including legal and accounting. The CGA made the decision to seek and was granted standing to ensure the gaming industry is evaluated and considered in fair and factual manner.
The work of the Commission will directly affect the interests of the CGA and its members, as the Commission’s Terms of Reference empower the Commission in Section (2)(a) “to make recommendations the commission considers necessary and advisable, including recommendations respecting the following: i. the regulation of [gaming and horse racing]”.
The CGA through its submission has outlined the Canadian gaming industry’s commitment to AML best practices, continuous improvement including the examination of emerging technologies, and learnings from jurisdictions outside of Canada.
The CGA earned standing with this Commission in 2019 and provided background on the Canadian gaming industry and participated in the opening hearings in February 2020. We continue to monitor the hearings as they progress.
ALC Supreme Court of Canada Decision Atlantic Lottery Corporation Inc. v. Babstock
The CGA applauds the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision not to allow a class action lawsuit about video lottery terminals (VLTs) to go forward.
The Court's decision can be found here.
The CGA was granted intervenor status in 2019 in the Atlantic Lottery Corporation Inc. v. Babstock in support of the appellants, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and its VLT and software suppliers and was represented by McCarthy Tétrault LLP.
The Court unanimously echoed a couple of the CGA’s key submissions, and we are pleased the association was able to support our industry, and that the perspective of the Canadian gaming community was taken into account so that the Supreme Court was able to release a principled decision that benefits the industry as a whole.
Brandon Kain, Partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, who successfully defended our industry, had these insights to share:
"For the CGA and its members, the most significant outcome of this decision is the Court’s narrow reading of the offence-creating provisions of the Criminal Code. The Court unanimously rejected the plaintiffs’ proposed interpretation, which would have made all VLTs and similar gaming offerings legally suspect. CGA members can also take comfort in the Court’s conclusions with respect to disgorgement, breach of contract, and good faith. Each of these will make it difficult or impossible for plaintiffs to certify class actions based on allegations that a gaming offering somehow did not provide players with what they paid for, without establishing – or at least asserting – that the players suffered a legally compensable loss as a consequence."