The Canadian government’s failure to legalize sports betting in Canada is costing us hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue, investment and job creation as the United States gaming and sports betting industry is being transformed and has massive growth as a result of legalized sports betting.
There was huge news this past week in the sports and gambling industries as the National Hockey League announced a multi-year strategic relationship in the sports betting industry with MGM Resorts International. The announcement naming MGM Resorts the NHL’s first official sports betting partner was made by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York City.
“The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our League,” said Bettman.
Also this past week the company that owns the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and Newark’s Prudential Center announced a deal with Caesars Entertainment to promote sports betting to customers with gambling accounts on their mobile phones.
“This is an excellent example of the type of relationship the Canadian gaming industry is looking for with professional sports leagues”, said Paul Burns, President & CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association. “We know that Canadians enjoy single-event sports betting because they are wagering approximately $14 billion annually through illegal channels.”
“We invite the NHL to work with our gaming industry to bring about the changes required to realize the full economic potential of single-event sports wagering in Canada – and give Canadian fans the same experience as their US counterparts,” said Burns.
Bettman was asked about Canada and legalizing sports betting. “The clubs in Canada have been working with the lotteries, who control gambling on a provincial basis,” Bettman said. “As the law evolves, you’ll see our evolution in dealing with it.
(Readers should know I work in this field but my business partners and I currently have no clients with a financial interest in the single event sports betting industry.)
According to the American Gaming Association, the four major sports leagues are projected to generate combined increased revenue of over $4.2 billion per year through TV advertising, sponsorship, data/product revenue, media rights, merchandise and tickets sales – all as a result of a legal, regulated sports betting market.
That will result in more income tax and sales taxes for government on top of the gaming taxes it will now collect on legalized sports betting.
In Canada, the Criminal Code today only permits wagering on two or more sporting events at a time. You can’t bet on just one event or outcome, which is the most popular way to bet on sports.
Canadian border casinos have had plans to create sports betting centres to attract Americans over the border to Canadian casinos.
In 2012, the NDP sponsored a private member’s bill to allow single sports gambling in Canada. Despite the fact it was approved by all political parties and supported by nine provinces with casinos, the Senate stalled the legislation until the 2015 general election was called, which killed the bill.
Ironically it was pressure from some of the leagues, including the NHL, that saw the Senate kill the legislation.
But last spring the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 in a 6-3 vote which opened the door for regulated sports wagering in the United States.
Now the sports leagues are going all-in on sports betting – and we should too.
The Canadian Gaming Association has research that states Canadians are wagering approximately $10 billion annually through illegal bookmaking operations in Canada, usually operated by organized crime organizations. Additionally, more than $4 billion is wagered through offshore online sports wagering sites.
South of the border the states that now have legalized sports betting are seeing investment, job creation and an increase in gaming tax revenues. In New Jersey alone there have been over $336 million in bets placed since it became legal in June 2018.
In Mississippi this year lawmakers have decided that revenue from the state’s sports betting law will help pay for education and road and bridge repairs.
Canada could have led the way with sports betting like they did with marijuana. Now we have to act quickly to play catch up with a huge transformation going on south of the border.