Could successful US sports betting lead to Canada following suit?
CANADA is one of the largest countries in the world still without a properly regulated sports betting market.
But as the financial results keep pouring in from US states such as New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware it is becoming increasingly obvious Canada must follow suit and properly regulate the sports betting industry and update laws to allow things such as single game wagers.
Let’s face it: with teams in the NHL, NBA and MLB, all American-based competitions, it’s time to harness the sports betting beast in Canada, rather than ignore its existence and the potential monetary gains it can give the provinces in Canada.
It is estimated that Canadians spend about $500 million on the regulated market each year which includes things such as lotteries and Pro Lines, things which are largely outdated when you look properly at the global industry, which is boosted by an approximate $10 billion CAD wagered illegally each year.
Why is it important for Canada to regulate sports betting?
Perhaps NBA team owner Mark Cuban sums it up best. He believes that the value of professional sports teams could as much as double because of sports betting.
“I think everyone who owns a top-four professional sports team just basically saw the value of their team double [with the changes in the US to sports betting laws],” The Dallas Mavericks owner said.
In the cut-throat world of professional sports in the USA, can Canadians teams that have not formed bonds with sports betting companies survive the latest arms race? This time a 500-pound gorilla called sports betting has the potential to seriously harm pro teams, unless they adapt.
What do we say about the situation and the impact sports betting can have on Canada’s pro teams? We say the government needs to jump on board as quickly as possible, and provide a safe and profitable environment for both punters and our teams through increased sponsorship and betting revenue to flourish in.
As a relative latecomer to modern sports betting regulation, Canada has the opportunity to look at models such as the UK, Switzerland and Australia and look at the problems faced and solved in the last few years and cherry pick the best solutions from already regulated markets. We can adapt world-best policies on problem gambling and have things such as self-exclusion registers from the get-go.
The big fear is soon the 500-pound gorilla won’t be able to be put back in its cage.
Canada: Why have we drifted on sports betting regulation?
The illegal sports betting market in Canada is worth an estimated $10 billion annually, which dwarfs the regulated gambling market.
The entire system in Canada is disjointed and lacks a national framework that is workable in the current climate.
This is 2018 and most Canadians bet on sports via the internet, and via offshore websites that don’t give the government a kick-back in taxes.
It just makes sense to firstly clamp down on offshore operators, and secondly put them through a rigorous licensing regime which will make them legally be able to operate in Canada and in turn contribute to things like helping problem gamblers and charitable organisations.
Heck, they can even help our domestic sports competitions such as the CFL, CBL and our soon-to-begin professional soccer league the Canadian Premier League. The funds a regulated sports betting market could pump into our sporting future are surely better than billions squandered to overseas interests.
Eight years ago local operators asked to be allowed to offer single-game wagering options but this request was denied, and the President of the Canadian Gaming Association Paul Burns is on record as saying the government has had plenty of opportunities to enact change.
“Provinces requested a simple amendment to our criminal code seven years ago, which would have provided greater regulatory oversight and control to sports wagering to protect consumers, athletes and the integrity of sport. This request has fallen on deaf ears,” he said in 2017.
While it does not appear to be on the near horizon, for the many factors outlined, let’s hope Canada takes a leaf out of the USA’s book and updates its regulatory framework to bring the country into line with the global gambling market.
After all it’s the grassroots sports competitions and leagues that ultimately lose out by less funding being put back into sports and community development.
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