Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse to use private member's bill route for measure aimed at legalising single-game sports betting
Remember C-290, the Canadian attempt to legalise single-game sports betting which was unanimously approved by the Lower House of the Canadian parliament but was stalled for years and finally snuffed out by the Senate?
It is on its way back in 2016, again as a private member's bill authored by Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse.
A maximum of 30 private bills are allowed on the House agenda at any one time, and Masse has snagged one of these slots. Speaking to local reporters Monday he said that he plans to introduce his bill next (February) month.
"We hope to see it pass one reading during this winter session and get into committee," Masse said. "We have a lot of partners and resources and evidence already in place. We're prepared fully for the process of debate on the bill's merits.
"This bill won't fall because of lack of preparation."
The Masse bill will be the second attempt made by a local Member of Parliament to get the Canadian Criminal Code changed to allow such betting. Retired Windsor-Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin's bill failed in the Senate after a protracted spell on the table and some manoeuvring by opponents to the measure.
Masse recalled that one of the Senate obstacles to the Cromartin bill was a voice vote, not a recorded one for the third reading. Such procedural landmines will be avoided this time, he promised.
"This bill is an opportunity to improve tourism, create new revenue streams, to create and protect jobs and provide extra funding to help with problem gambling," Masse said.
"We have billions of dollars invested in casino infrastructure and tourism at risk. It would give us a unique advantage in the area.
"Regardless of this bill, this betting is taking place in backrooms and offshore and it's unregulated. It's certainly not providing any revenue to battle gambling addiction."
Masse said a new parliament and a Senate less entangled in scandals presents opportunities to educate and organise votes in support of the betting bill.
"I think the landscape has changed," he said.
"For one thing the NHL's hypocrisy on this is exposed when they have advertising (DraftKings fantasy hockey) related to gambling on their website."
The four major professional sports bodies have previously lobbied against single-game betting, citing the Canadian Criminal Code, which only allows a sports' bet when the bets are played in combinations with two or more events.
"I don't see why you can bet on two or three or more games, but not one," Masse commented to a Windsor Star reporter. "It would still be up to each province to decide if they wanted to entertain this. It doesn't force anyone to do anything. At least we could have a discussion about an activity that's already legal around the world."
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