Canadian Casinos Could Get Sportsbooks

3 July 2008

Legislators in Canada's federal government and in the provinces are trying to enable sports betting at casinos in Canada, according to the Toronto Star.

The legislators reason that legal sports betting in casinos would allow them to better compete with casinos in the USA and sportsbooks on the Internet. Their plan requires adjustments to Canada's Criminal Code and to the laws of the individual provinces that would regulate sportsbooks.

The Star says Justice Minister Rob Nicholson supports the plan, and that the federal government and provincial government of Ontario are quietly cooperating, although no timetable is set.

Ontario's casinos are losing revenue because of fewer American visitors, caused by competition from American casinos across the border, a high Canadian dollar and increased border security.

Progressive Conservative MPP Tim Hudak , representing Ontario's Niagara West-Glanbrook region, wrote to Nicholson and provincial infrastructure minister George Smitherman yesterday to urge speed in implementing the plan.

"Unfortunately, Niagara residents have experienced recent layoffs at Niagara's casinos and a significant decline in patronage at the Fort Erie racetrack due to increased competition in New York state, a less favorable exchange rate and other border issues," Hudak wrote.

"Furthermore, a properly regulated, trusted and professional sportsbook would help reduce the growing illegal sports betting taking place in Ontario and by Ontario residents on offshore and unregulated Internet sites."