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Single sports betting urged by Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa

01/29/2015 10:35 EST | Updated 03/31/2015 05:59 EDT
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa is urging Canadian Senate to legalize single-event sports betting.

Sousa on Wednesday called the change “something that the community is asking for."

Bill C-290, a private member’s bill tabled by Windsor-Tecumseh NDP MP Joe Comartin, would allow gamblers to bet on one game at a time, such as the Super Bowl. Currently, bettors must wager on a minimum of two games at once — called a parlay — and get all three predictions correct to win.

The proposed legislation would repeal the Criminal Code section that prohibits betting on a single race, fight, sporting event or athletic contest.

The chambers of commerce in Windsor-Essex and Niagara Falls, Ont., say single-event sports betting would increase revenue and create jobs, particularly at Caesars Windsor and Fallsview casinos.

“Much monies that would otherwise be held here in Ontario for the purposes of investing in hospitals and education is not staying here as a result of this,” Sousa said. “I think the Senate should move on it, and that’s been the wishes of the federal government and all parties at the federal level. They should proceed.”

Sousa and the province are trying to pay down a $12.5-billion deficit.

Unifor, the union representing employees at Caesars Windsor, say the change would create jobs and allow Caesars to offer a wager that is illegal in Michigan, home to three casinos in Detroit, alone.

A report by the Canadian Gaming Corporation estimates Caesars Windsor and Fallsview Casino could ad 250 full-time jobs if the bill is passed.

The bill was passed unanimously in the House of Commons in 2012 but it’s languished in the Senate ever since.

“This bill is perhaps a problem bill for all senators. I believe there is a good chance this will be the first time in Canadian history that a bill passed unanimously in the House of Commons could be defeated in the Senate,” Sen. George Baker said last October.

A year ago this month, the Canadian Gaming Association claimed $26 million in single-event sports betting had been wagered illegally while the Senate has debated the bill.

A case study prepared by HLT Advisory for the association estimates Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls could earn a net gaming profit of between $9 million and $12 million each year. In Windsor, it would be $18 million to $24 million.

Windsor would also see up to $7 million in "ancillary revenue," the report found.

“Offering single sport event gaming would provide Ontario's border casinos with a competitive advantage over casinos in the U.S.,” finance ministry spokesman Greg Crone said in an email to CBC.

Each province would still have to implement single-event sports betting if the bill passes.

"It is premature to commit to any definite plans for bringing single sport event wagering to Ontario. However, the Ministry of Finance would work with OLG, the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to explore the idea of implementing single sport event wagering, in the event that Bill C-290 were to be passed,” Crone wrote.

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