Puck Set to Drop on Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada

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On August 12, 2021, the federal government announced that Bill C‑218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill), will come into force on August 27 of this year, officially legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada (see our June 2021 Blakes Bulletin: Senate Passes Bill C-218 Legalizing Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada).

Minister of Justice David Lametti stated that the Bill will bring single-event sports betting into a “regulated and safe environment” and strengthen the Canadian economy. The rollout sets the stage for a regulatory framework to be established in advance of the regular seasons for major sports leagues such as the NBA, NHL, NFL and CFL.

PLANS FOR THE PROVINCES

While the federal decriminalization of single-event sports betting brings with it promising opportunities, it is important to remember that sports betting will be regulated at the provincial level.

At this stage, not all provinces have firmly established how they intend to regulate single-event sports betting within their borders. Here is what we know at the moment.

Ontario

As mentioned in our April 2021 Blakes Bulletin: Ontario iGaming on a Roll as Draft Standards Released, sports and event betting will be included in Ontario’s new iGaming model when the program goes live. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has launched an infographic roadmap that aims to provide clarity to Ontarians and businesses on the province’s path forward to developing and launching a competitive iGaming market, including sports and event betting, by the end of 2021.

On July 28, 2021, the AGCO released a discussion paper and draft regulatory standards for sports and event betting in Ontario. The draft standards, once finalized, will apply to all sports, esports, and novelty and fantasy sports products in Ontario and will be embedded within the broader Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

The main objective of the proposed standards is to minimize risk of markets being compromised through illicit activity, such as game manipulation and insider betting, and support the Government of Ontario’s objectives in providing consumer choice while ensuring consumer protection.

The AGCO discussion paper accompanying the draft standards also notes that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) will be working with land-based operators to bring sports and event betting products to market within the province and that the AGCO will be considering revisions to the Registrar’s Standards for iGaming, which apply to land-based gaming activities, to accommodate sports and event betting.

The ACGO is currently soliciting feedback from stakeholders on the proposed regulatory standards for sports and event betting until August 18, 2021. Interested stakeholders can provide feedback on the draft standards and receive updates on other ways to provide feedback by registering for the ACGO Engagement Portal. They can also subscribe to receive email updates about the regulatory scheme.

Alberta

In a news release dated August 3, 2021, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (ALGC) agency indicated they will undergo stakeholder consultation and collaboration in the coming months to offer single-event sports betting for land-based operators in the province, in addition to adding single-event betting options to Play Alberta, Alberta’s regulated online gambling website.

British Columbia

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) is similarly preparing to offer single-event sports betting online on Play Now, B.C.’s regulated online gambling site. The BCLC will continue to modernize the platform to adapt to the pending regulatory framework. Expansion plans for the regulation of land-based operators have yet to be announced.

Atlantic Provinces

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC), which is the provincial lottery corporation collectively established by the governments of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, has indicated that it will likely undergo a similar rollout strategy on its regulated gaming site once approval is received from the regulatory agencies in each respective Atlantic provinces.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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