League’s Position on Sports Betting Bill Inconsistent

[WINDSOR] Brian Masse M.P. (Windsor West) has written the National Hockey League (NHL) asking Commissioner Gary Bettman to reconsider the League’s position on the NDP Private Member’s Bill C-290 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Sports Betting). In 2013 when the Bill was being considered in the Senate’s Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs the NHL submitted a brief outlining their opposition to the proposed legislation.

Recent decisions by the NHL to partner with a major sports betting operation—Draft Kings—and the public acknowledgement of plans to potentially locate a franchise in Las Vegas have prompted Masse to ask the League to reconsider its position on C-290.

Masse points out in his letter that the rationale underpinning the NHL’s opposition to C-290 runs counter to its historic and current approach to sports betting. “It appears as though the League has altered its views on sports betting. I don’t see how the NHL can continue to oppose to oppose C-290 when they’ve historically and recently used sports betting to leverage greater interest in their product. Late last year, the NHL proudly announced a partnership with one of the largest sports betting operations in the world—DraftKings. In the meantime, it has just come to light that they are actively investigating locating a franchise in the sports betting capital of the planet Las Vegas, and we all know they have enjoyed a strong partnership with gaming authorities across Canada for decades.” Masse said.

Additionally, Masse challenges the NHL’s premise that a legal single event sports betting product represents any threat to the integrity of the game. “The notion that by legalizing and thereby creating a forum for greater direct State control over a largely illegal industry that we are compromising the League somehow is absurd. This naively ignores the reality that single event sports betting is a massive black market in the here and now, estimated by gaming experts to be as much as $40 Billion a year in Canada. Opposing C-290 simply guarantees massive revenues streams to organized crime and an unfair Las Vegas monopoly.” Masse added.

A copy of the letter has been sent directly to every Senator. C-290 is currently at Second Reading in the Canadian Senate waiting to once again be considered at the Standing Committee for Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Masse is hopeful that C-290 may finally move through the Senate process and achieve Royal Assent. “I’ve been continually working to provide Senators with the most recent and pertinent information with respect to this bill. The landscape is clearly changing with these recent moves by the NHL. We’ve also seen the new Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Adam Silver publicly state in the New York Times that the NBA will embrace single event sports betting. I hope Senators will find this compelling and allow this bill that passed unopposed through the elected House to finally be enacted.”


Brian's letter to Commissioner Bettman is linked below