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Senate Continues to Ignore a Bill Legalizing Federal Sports Gambling

By: Russell Potvin , Mon. Sept. 22, 2014

Sports Gambling Bill Stuck in Senate

While it passed through the House of Commons two years ago, a bill to legalize Vegas-style sports gambling continues to sit in limbo in the Senate rather than coming to a vote.

While the Senate, which is appointed rather than being elected, rarely goes against the elected House of Commons, especially when the house passes a bill with all-party approval. However, there are a number of Senators who have expressed concerns over the gambling bill, officially called Bill C-290, because of how quickly it passed the House. The bill was proposed by Joe Comartin, a member of the New Democrat party and was voted upon after only one short session. The House did hear from several members of the gaming industry, but they heard very little or no statements from those opposed. The bill passed on a simple voice vote.

This trend of passing member-sponsored bills with little or no debate or review isn't new. The House has become somewhat infamous for doing so. In one recent case, the House passed the wrong version of one bill; in another, a bill was passed that was later determined to contain a number of errors. In the second instance, the bill became law despite these mistakes.

The Senate appears to be attempting to call out the House for their lack of review. In the instance of Bill C-290, the Senate has stalled a vote due to the face that the House did not hear from groups like the pro sports leagues and others who would have presented more opposite views.

Currently, it is illegal to place any bets on a single game in Canada. Provinces may, however, offer multi-game wagers. If Bill C-290 were to pass, provinces would be allowed to offer single-game betting. Proponents of the bill claim it would bring a large amount of money into the country, while opponents believe it may lead to more gambling addiction. Sports leagues feel such betting may lead to players feeling pressured to intentionally lose games.