Larry Smith Among Senate Hearing Bill C-218

By Ben Hamill - June 04 2021
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Larry Smith Among Senate Hearing Bill C-218

Former CFL commissioner Larry Smith will be among those tasked with reviewing Bill C-218 once its presented to Senate’s standing committee on banking, trade, and commerce this week. Bill C-218 is the privately tabled legislation set to legalise betting on single sports events in the country.

Following the hearing of arguments both for and against the bill, the committee will then refer the bill back to Senate for a third reading. Then, if and when passed, it will finally make its way to the office of Chief Justice of Canada, Richard Wagner, for the stamp and signature of royal assent. Wagner is currently acting in an interim role as Governor General following the resignation of Julie Payette.

The current round of readings marks the second time during Smith’s term as senator that a bill for the legalisation of single-event sports betting in Canada has been brought before Senate. The previous time was in 2015, when legislation got stopped short by the calling of a federal election.

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Greater Chance Of Success

But Smith appears positive about the likelihood of success this time. He stated during a recent telephone interview that there’s now a much larger sense of openness towards legalised single-event sports betting within the North American society as a whole. People are beginning to realise the nature of the reality we’re now living in, said Smith, which if anything, is sport being in desperate need of all the help it can possibly get.

The main challenge set before Bill C-218 is that its competing for attention in a race against time. Since there are at any given time several government bills tabled for reading before Senate, Summer recess remains an ever present danger. If the bill isn’t passed before recess, it will most likely have to pass through the motions all over again next year.

Why The Bill Is Crucial

Illegal betting with unlicensed providers is a multi-billion dollar industry a year. Estimates indicate illegal bookmakers, offshore providers, and U.S. casinos near the Canadian border to be tapping around $14 billion in sports betting revenue from Canadians every single year.

It is crucial that this revenue is returned back home. It could potentially be nothing short of a lifeline for a struggling league such as the Canadian Football League. With not a single game played in 2020 due to the effects of the global health crisis, estimates indicate the cash-strapped CFL to have lost between $60- and $80 million in revenue last year alone.

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