Ottawa, BC, Canada (4E Sports) – The National Hockey League and Major League Baseball are vigorously opposing legislation that would make it legal in Canada to bet on the outcome of a single sporting event.
The legislation has already been passed by the House and just needs to pass a third and final reading in the Senate to become law.
In a letter to the Senate, the NHL said Bill C-290 could compromise the integrity of the game open a plethora of match-fixing and social problems associated with gambling.
“We firmly believe that legalized sports betting threatens to compromise that integrity, and that the single-game betting scheme that Bill C-290 seeks to decriminalize poses a particularized and unique threat in that regard,” the NHL wrote.
“Such wagering poses perhaps the greatest threat to the integrity of our games, since it is far easier to engage in ‘match fixing’ in order to win single-game bets than it is in cases of parlay betting as currently exists in Canada, where bets are determined on the basis of multiple game outcomes,” the letter added.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was scheduled to appear before a Senate committee Thursday, but the ongoing labor talks and poor weather in New York kept him far away from Parliament Hill.
A top Major League Baseball official and the head of the Toronto Blue Jays also appeared before the Senate committee to voice their opposition to the passage of Bill C-290.
“When gambling is permitted on team sports, winning the bet may become more important than winning the game; the point spread or the number of runs scored may overshadow the game’s outcome and the intricacies of play,” Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston said last month.
“If large numbers of our fans come to regard baseball only or even partially as a gambling vehicle, the very nature of the sport will be altered and harmed. We want fans to root for the home team to win. Likewise, we want our athletes to know that they are being cheered to win,” he added.
The Senate appears poised to reject the legislation that easily passed the House. If that happens, it would mark the first time the Upper Chamber has rejected legislation unanimously passed by members of Parliament.
“I’ve talked to people individually who indicate that they’re going to vote against it,” Conservative Sen. Norman Doyle said. “I’m thinking that we probably have enough people in the Senate to kill it.”
The proposed legislation would repeal the Criminal Code section that prohibits betting on a single race, fight, sporting event or athletic contest.
If passed into law, each province would get to decide whether to allow single-game betting. Currently, the provinces only allow “parlay betting,” or wagering on multiple outcomes on a single ticket such as ProLine in Ontario.