How Will Legalized Sports Betting Impact Canada’s Economy?

On June 22nd, the Senate in Canada approved Bill C-218, legalizing betting in Canada. The lower house approved it in February, but with the Senate voting 57-20 in favour, the bill has now cleared the upper house as well. You might be surprised to learn that Canada legalized sports betting just now. Well, it was a bit of a grey zone. Betting on single sports games was not allowed, but betting on multiple games at once (and you have to be right on all), so-called parlay betting, was permitted. And the new law took effect on August 27th.

Of course, theory is one thing, and practice is another. In reality, Canadians still had access to all kinds of betting and casino games, and they just needed to go online to find them. This change coincided with the ongoing world situation, which naturally forced people to spend time inside and online. As one can imagine, live casino games saw a substantial increase in their demand during 2020 and 2021. The economic consequences of such developments can not be understated, and as we show in this article, the primary motivators for Canada to legalize single sports game betting were economic.

Missed Opportunities for Canadian Bussiness

So what is the issue with Canadians going online and betting instead of doing it in some local shop? Well, it is straightforward. To do that, they had to use off-shore foreign companies. It wasn’t illegal, although it was a bit of a grey zone. So a lot of money was being spent and sent to foreign companies when without a doubt, Canadian companies in the sector would have done the job no worse than foreign competition. But the former legislation in Canada prevented them from doing so.

Let’s talk numbers. The estimate is that Canada’s current unofficial sports betting is 10 billion dollars, with several billions of dollars from other unaccounted sources. This estimate does not mention the damage done to border communities where people can quickly go to the United States, where the same kind of betting is approved.

It is not easy to calculate how much this legislation can grow Canada’s economy. However, if it manages to capture a large portion of the current grey market, it could increase about two and half-billion dollars in two years. No less important is the possible tax revenue, which could increase by half a billion dollars. In the end, it’s estimated that the industry would open 2700 jobs across the country.

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Why Was It Banned in the First Place?

It is interesting to know why single event betting got banned in the first place. It is an archaic rule based on the assumption that single event betting would encourage game-fixing. While it made sense when the law finally got some ink on it, without a doubt, the law was long outdated.

Unsurprisingly the new law received a ton of support from institutions and stakeholders like the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. It also faced little political opposition, as all the major parties supported it too. This level of ease when it comes to implementing this law again confirmed how illogical the prior state of the matter was and that it just needed a little nudge to satisfy everyone as they all have their bottom lines.