November 8, 2012
Sports leagues say new betting law will lead to corruptionLaw would allow bettors to put money on single games
By Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau
The NHL and its major league counterparts say high-level sports would be open to players throwing matches if Parliament wagers on a bill allowing single-game betting in Canada.
The NHL, NBA, and NFL, along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association are on the offensive against a private member's bill that would allow Canadians to put money on single sporting events, such as the Super Bowl.
In arguments to the Senate committee currently studying Bill C-290, pro and amateur sports associations say loosening the gambling laws would irreparably warp the relationship between teams and their fans and leave players ripe for corruption.
"Government sponsored and/or regulated single-game sports gambling threatens to compromise the reputation and integrity of the NHL's product, and could seriously undermine our fans' trust and confidence in honest competition," said the league's deputy commissioner Bill Daly in a statement.
Tim Rahilly, with Simon Fraser University, the NCAA's only Canadian branch, told senators Thursday that if passed, his school's athletes could be forced out of the country to play in championship games. The NCAA, playing hardball against similar legislation passed in New Jersey, recently moved championship games out of that state.
Rahilly said he's concerned amateur athletes are especially vulnerable to being convinced to throw matches.
"There are many more checks and balances at the professional level and I think there are potentially resources there to make sure that people are complying with the law, should this be legalized," Rahilly said. "At the amateur level, I don't think that is the case. I don't think the resources are there."
In Canada, gamblers can legally wager on two or more games at a time. South of the border, Nevada - and recently New Jersey - allow people to wager on a single sporting event.
NDP MP Joe Comartin, the bill's sponsor, and its proponents maintain billions of dollars in revenue is being lost when Canadian take to the Internet to gamble on games. They say changing the rules would mean a windfall for casino regions near the U.S., such as Niagara Falls.
But the controversy means the legislation - which breezed through the House of Commons essentially unchallenged - faces hurdles in the Senate.
Conservative Senator Bob Runciman said it's a toss up as to whether it passes the final vote in the upper chamber.
"There's some strong feelings on this," he said. "There's been quite a lobby effort to kill the bill. We'll just have to wait and see."
If the bill does pass, each province would create their own laws to govern single-game gambling in their jurisdictions.