POLITICS

Bill C-290 On Single-Event Sports Betting Hasn't Passed Senate, Election Looms

07/02/2015 11:43 EDT | Updated 07/02/2016 05:59 EDT
CP

Joe Comartin, the NDP MP who has long wanted to legalize sports betting on a single event, says it's "shameful" the Senate has let his private member's bill languish to the point it likely will not become law.

Comartin introduced Bill C-290 back in 2011. It's an act to amend the Criminal Code and "allow for wagering on the outcome of a single sporting event, which is currently illegal in Canada."

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

If passed, provinces would then be allowed to make the change to allow gamblers to bet on one game at a time rather than multiple games.

The bill unanimously passed in the House of Commons and was sent to the Senate in March 2012. It's been there ever since.

The Senate will not sit again until after the federal election, which has a fixed election date of Oct. 19.

"It's been shameful, the opposition that has come from within the Senate," Comartin said.

Comartin is not seeking re-election. He's retiring.

The Canadian Gaming Association says Canadians spend $450 million a year on multiple or parlay bets, but more than $10 billion on single sporting events.

Comartin says that $10 billion — and maybe more — is being wagered illegally and funding organized crime.

"It's a great method to fight organized crime," Comartin said of the bill. "It's just a great tool to take away a huge chunk of money from that type of criminal activity."

Comartin was a member of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which, in 2012, prepared a report on the state of organized crime.

The report found trafficking in illicit drugs seemed to be a common component of organized crime activities, with other areas being human trafficking, counterfeit products, illegal gambling, money laundering, and vehicle theft.

Job creator, too

Comartin also says the bill is "a job creation tool, not just for this community but for a number of communities across the country."

Comartin claims the change would have "created or saved 250 jobs" at Caesars Windsor.

"The same is true in Niagara Falls," he said of Fallsview Casino and Casino Niagara.

Brian Masse, the NDP MP for Windsor-West, called single sports betting "a windfall for organized crime."

Conservative Senator Vern White has been a vocal opponent of C-290.

He is a former RCMP officer and chief of police for the city of Ottawa and previously told CBC's Rosemary Barton the one thing Canada does not need is more gambling.

White previously said the logic that the law should change just because organized crime is taking bets doesn't make sense.

"If we followed the line of thinking of Brian Masse, we would legalize cocaine and heroin, too," he said. "Organized crime is doing it, so why don't we do it too?"