The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce supports Bill C-221, currently in the House of Commons, which would legalize single-event sports betting. Currently, $14 billion is wagered on single events, most of it illegally, the rest through offshore gambling websites. Legalizing this economic activity would be a huge boost for the economy, resulting in jobs and growth, particularly in Niagara. Read our letter below to Members of Parliament asking them to support the Bill.
June 17th, 2016
The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of almost 1,600 members and 50,000 employees would like to express its support for Bill C-221, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, which is currently before you in the House of Commons. In this, we are joined by many other business organizations, including the Ontario and Canadian Chambers of Commerce.
Sports wagers have been legal in Canada for many years, but Canadians prefer single-event betting, as evidenced by the $10 billion spent annually through illegal bookmaking operations in Canada and an additional $4 billion wagered through offshore online betting websites. Rendering these wagers legal would repatriate criminal activity back into productive and taxable economic activity, from a cost to the government into revenue. The current situation only supports crime, including organized crime.
Many provinces currently support this bill. Ontario has requested the amendment, as has British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Alberta, while Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island support it.
The bill is functionally identical to Bill C-290, which was passed by the House of Commons with support from all parties, including your own, but died in the Senate after languishing for years. When C-290 was before the Senate, the GNCC supported it, as it supports its successor. We noted then that nearly 40 per cent of Niagara’s economy and over 55,000 jobs were supported by tourism, and that the tourist industry would benefit immensely from the passage of the bill. Little has changed since. Across Canada, the gaming industry alone supports 125,000 direct jobs and generates $12.5 billion in direct labour income. Bringing the current $14 billion in illegal single-wager betting into the legal economy could add far more to this.
We understand the government’s caution over this bill, but we feel that the benefits far outweigh the potential pitfalls, especially as single-wager betting is already here – illegally. We hope that you will consider supporting this bill and the jobs, revenue, and economic activity that this legislation would generate for your constituents.
President & CEO, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce