Jonathon Liedtke – ourWindsor.ca – June 14, 2013
It was 18 months ago that the democratically elected House of Commons passed a single sports betting bill which was initially submitted by Windsor-East MP Joe Comartin.
Roughly 400 casino workers, union members, community leaders and politicians attended a rally in Charles Clarke Square this morning in support of Bill C-290, the NDP single sports betting bill, which is currently stalled in the Senate.
The Senate, embroiled in its own expense scandals involving, is typically referred to as the “Chamber of Sober Second Thought”. In a rare break from tradition, the Senate is delaying passage of a bill which has been approved by the democratically elected House of Commons.
“Canadians are looking for a legal, regulated alternative for betting on sports,” said Paul Burns, Vice President of the Canadian Gaming Association.
His organization estimates that $14-billion per year is wagered on online offshore sports books or through local organized crime operations and book making annually.
“It’s making a tremendous amount of money that’s not going to the benefit of communities and not creating jobs in Canada,” said Burns who added that the alternative to not passing the bill is to “leave it in the hands of organized crime and offshore sports books.”
“By not passing it, they’re not solving any problems, they’re letting it perpetuate and that’s why we want them to get on with it,” said Burns.
Kevin Laforet, the president and CEO of Caesars Windsor, expects that if the bill eventually clears the Senate that it will provide a “unique selling proposition” for the brand.
“It really resonates with a lot of our gaming customers, I think it would be a unique selling proposition versus all of the competitive casinos,” said Laforet. “Michigan is a sports crazy state, they love it. It draws a lot of people in.”
Laforet indicated that the change in legislation would allow Caesars to provide a sports book operation which would feature large screen televisions like those in Las Vegas that allow gamers to place single sports bets.
President of CAW Local 444 Dino Chiodo addressed the crowd and asked the senate to “do their due diligence” and allow provinces to “make the determination that’s necessary and what’s in the best interest of working people in this province.”
Brian Masse, MP Windsor-West is the current lead for the legislation and he expressed frustration that the bill is held up in the Senate.
“Most people understand that when this bill passes it provides us with an economic advantage to the United States and the sports betting that is taking place right there,” said Masse. “It took a lot of effort and courage to actually bring [the bill] forward because it’s also a bill that affects crime.”
Masse said that the bill aims to tackle organized crime and offshore betting.
“Organized crime will take a hit on this bill, it will also stop some of the nefarious offshore betting that is taking place [and] it will make sure that provinces have a choice,” said Masse.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.