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Legal single-sports betting in Canada starts on August 27

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Seattle Seahawks running back Josh Johnson reaches for the ball during an NFL football practice in Renton, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks running back Josh Johnson reaches for the ball during an NFL football practice in Renton, Wash., Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Canadians can legally bet on single sporting events beginning Aug. 27, ending the country’s long-standing requirement for wagers to be spread across multiple games and matches.

Justice Minister David Lametti made the announcement at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ont. on Thursday, more than 40 days after Parliament passed Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act.

"Provinces and territories will be able to offer single event sport betting products, like wagering on the Grey Cup, game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, or the Super Bowl," he said. 

"These changes to the Criminal Code will allow provinces and territories to use revenues to fund programming, such as health care or education, as they do with other lottery revenues."

Yahoo Finance Canada reported on Wednesday that Ottawa would spell out new details of its plan to enact the legalization of single-sports betting in Canada. News of the announcement followed criticism from politicians who backed the legislation, and an industry group, about the time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet took to set a date for the new law to come into force.

Thursday's announcement will be cheered by Canadian casinos and online sportsbook operators eyeing a legal market expected to handle nearly $28 billion in betting action five years post legalization.

The federal government's role in the legalization of single-sports gambling is effectively over now that cabinet ministers have set a start date. After Aug. 27, provinces and territories are free to start allowing the newly-legal forms of wagering. 

However, Lametti says he is continuing consultations on how Indigenous peoples will engage with provinces on the new forms of gambling. The issue prompted significant debate while Bill C-218 was before the Senate in June. 

"The missing part of this is the Indigenous component. Indigenous people were left out of the talks that were had historically, and a number have very sophisticated and well-run gaming operations," he said. "Hopefully, we will move forward on that part of the file."

In Ontario and British Columbia, province-run lottery corporations could be the first to market with new gaming products. The British Columbia Lottery Corp. and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. both said on Thursday that they will have single-event sports products ready to launch on Aug. 27. The government in Ontario, Canada's most populous province, has said its policies will create a competitive market for private operators.

The start of legal single-sports gambling is a win for Canada's land-based casino operators, including those in Niagara Falls, where Thursday's announcement was made. Many are located near the Canada-U.S. border, a short drive from American casinos that allow patrons to bet on individual sports events.

Unifor Local 444 president Dave Cassidy, who represents workers at the Caesars Windsor casino, says the ability to roll out new sports-gaming products will create jobs in a sector that has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It's about 100 to 150 jobs just here at Caesars Windsor," he said at a separate virtual press event on Thursday. 

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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