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 interest.
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.
- Policy Positions
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 recent example of the CGA advocating with the federal government on legislative issues affecting the industry.
Other recent 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
Bill C-290 – An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Sports Betting) – was introduced into the House of Commons on September 28, 2011 by Joe Comartin, M.P. for Windsor Tecumseh.
On November 1, 2011, C-290 was debated at second reading, with numerous speeches from members of all parties, and was referred to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. Following a review by the Committee on February 16, 2012, the bill was reported back to the House of Commons on February 27, 2012.
Third reading debate was held on March 2, 2012. Again, with support from all parties, the bill was passed and referred on to the Senate.
Introduced in the Senate only four days later, on March 6, 2012, C-290 was debated at second reading on May 16, 2012, and referred to the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Committee hearings began on October 4, 2012. After five meetings of the committee, with 21 witnesses appearing and 27 written submissions received, the Committee referred the bill back to the Senate for third reading on November 8, 2012.
Following prorogation of the House of Commons, Bill C-290 was re-introduced in the Senate in fall 2013 and was then referred back to the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs.
Nine provincial governments supported Bill C-290. The Federal Minister of Justice received letters from the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, requesting that the Criminal Code be amended to permit single-event sports wagering. The provinces of Quebec, PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have also indicated support for the amendment.
Bill C-290 also earned widespread support from provincial gaming regulators and operators, municipal governments, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Labour Council, and the Canadian Soccer Association.
Bob Runciman, a Conservative Senator who revived the bill in June 2014, told senators they had been acting undemocratically. The bill began another journey toward a vote.
Despite this, by September 2014 Bill C-290 had stalled in the Senate. As noted in The Globe and Mail, it was “a rare example of pushback from an unelected body believed never to have blocked a law supported by all parties.”
Bill C-290 was left to languish in a Senate committee and was never referred back to the Senate for further debate.
By June 30, 2015, it was over. The senators hadn’t bothered to do anything with the bill before they rose for the summer, effectively killing C-290. Any bill that didn’t pass died on the order paper, as Parliament dissolved for the fall election before the Senate returned to sit.
Within nine months, another attempt was made.
In April 2016, Brian Masse, NDP MP for Windsor West, championed Bill C-221, The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, proposing to allow provinces and territories the option to allow wagering on "any race or fight, or on a single sports event or athletic contest." Like Bill C-290, Bill C-221 was defeated in September 2016 by a vote of 156-133 at second reading in the House of Commons.
Single-event sports wagering in Canada is estimated to be approximately $14 billion per year, however only a small portion of that revenue ($450 million) is wagered through provincial sports lottery products. This means that Canadians are increasingly wagering through offshore sports books or turning to illegal bookmakers. The CGA has contested that despite the existence of parlay-style sports wagering, existing restrictions on single-event sports wagering have not kept pace with the evolution of the sports industry, technology, or the appetite of sports bettors.
The demise of both Bill C-290 and Bill C-221 means that the current parlay system remains in place.
The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act was introduced in Parliament on February 25, 2020 as a Private Member’s Bill by Kevin Waugh, MP for Saskatoon-Grasswood. The Bill will seek to amend the Criminal Code to make it legal to bet on the outcome of a single sporting event.
Experts in responsible gambling, law enforcement, and amateur sport all believe that bringing regulatory oversight and control to sports wagering is the best way to protect people, athletes, and the integrity of the games.
The Canadian Gaming Association fully supports this Bill and the efforts of federal MPs to make change happen. We will continue to provide updates as the Bill makes its way through debates.
ALC Supreme Court of Canada Appeal
In early December, the CGA attended the arguments brought before the Supreme Court of Canada appeal in Atlantic Lottery Corporation Inc. v. Babstock. The CGA was represented by McCarthy Tetrault LLP.
The Atlantic Lottery appeal involves a class action which alleges that ALC must disgorge the profits it has earned from its video lottery terminals on the theory that they violate the prohibition on three-card monte of the Criminal Code and are not exempted by its conduct and manage power.
A summary of the case is available here.
A decision is expected in approximately six months, which would be May-June 2020.
Anti-Money Laundering and the Cullen Commission
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.
We will be working with our members and industry partners to ensure the Commission has the best possible information as they evaluate recommendations which affect our industry.