Canada Could Be Next Michigan Neighbor To Legalize Sports Betting

Posted on November 25, 2020

After a year of haggling, it looks like Canadians could soon be able to bet on sports one game at a time.

A lawmaker plans to introduce legislation Wednesday to remove the ban on single-event betting north of the border.

It’s the latest in a long line of sports gambling expansion efforts near Michigan.

Mobile sports betting is already live in Indiana and Illinois. Ohio could be next.

With Michigan expected to launch online sports betting soon, it’s now becoming a crowded marketplace in the region.

What’s next for Canada sports betting?

Canadian Minister of Justice David Lametti was set to introduce C-218 on Wednesday, which would remove the ban on single-event wagering.

The bill would allow individual provinces to make their own determinations on the ban. Ontario would be motivated to move quickly.

For now, Canadians can only bet sports on parlay bets, including at Legends Sports Bar in Caesars Windsor.

The casino is right across the Detroit River and a short drive from Detroit and its three commercial casinos.

Caesars Windsor is currently open only to invited guests for slot play. Non-essential travel is currently banned across the US/Canada border.

Parliament member Irek Kusmierczyk told the Windsor Star that, after a couple of rounds of efforts, he believes this legislation will pass.

“Because it’s a government bill now, this is a huge step, because in all likelihood this is going to get done. I am confident this is going to get done.”

Canadians bet $14.5 billion on sports per year, the Canadian Gaming Association estimates. Legal parlay bets only account for about $500 million.

Impact on Michigan sports betting

In a normal environment, Michigan could have benefitted from bettors crossing state and national borders to make bets.

Representing GeoComply at this month’s Michigan Gaming Control Board meeting, John Pappas shared data from Indiana that showed much of the state’s bets were placed near the Illinois border.

Illinois added mobile sports betting this year. Indiana launched sports betting in late 2019.

Canada could be next, which would stop a potential Michigan sports betting revenue stream before it was able to flow. For Detroit in particular, legal sports betting in Canada reduces any future cross-border activity at MGM Grand, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino.

Even so, Michigan sports betting is expected to be about a $200 million annual industry, according to legislative analysis at the time of the bill signing last year. Tax revenue from sports betting was anticipated to be close to $20 million for the state.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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