Bill C-218 and the Rise of Online Sports Betting in Canada: A Cause for Concern?


Online sports betting has become increasingly popular worldwide, with Canada being no exception. In early 2021, Canada’s federal government passed Bill C-218, which removed the federal ban on single-event sports betting. This move made same-game bets and future bets legal, paving the way for numerous online sportsbooks to operate in Ontario.

Bill C-218 is a proposed legislation that aims to amend paragraph 207(4)(b) under the Criminal Code, removing restrictions on single-event sports betting activities. The legalization would allow Canadians to engage legally in online sports betting activities, which are currently illegal but widely available through offshore platforms.

While this new legislation has undoubtedly led to an increase in gambling activity among Ontarians, it has also raised concerns about potential addiction issues. This article explores the impact of Bill C-218 and online sports betting on society.


The Impact of Bill C-218

The passing of Bill C-218 led to a significant increase in online gambling activity among Ontarians. According to iGaming Ontario, users placed a cumulative $457 million on online bets between October 1st and December 31st, 2022 – a staggering 71% increase from the previous quarter.

While these figures may be indicative of an unsurprising trend – people enjoying gambling – they also raise concerns about addiction problems.


The Accessibility of Online Sports Betting

One factor that has contributed to the rise of online sports betting in Ontario is the accessibility of these sites. With several licensed online sportsbooks now operating in Canada, gambling has never been more accessible.

This convenience can be both a blessing and a curse. While it allows for easy access to entertainment, it also makes it easier for users to develop unhealthy gambling tendencies.


Assessing Inherent Risks After Bill C-218’s Passage

The passage of Bill C-218 would increase inherent money laundering risks by allowing more people access to online sports betting activities. As per reports from Assessment of Inherent Risks, domestic banks, corporations (especially private corporations), certain types of money services businesses, and express trusts are highly vulnerable sectors to money laundering threats.

Moreover, online sports betting can be used as an avenue for individuals or groups involved in transnational organized crime groups (OCGs) or professional money launderers.

Above all, given that many online platforms operate offshore with weak AML/ATF regimes compared to Canadian standards, there is an increased risk for terrorist financing activities involving these platforms after Bill C-218’s passage.


The Potential for Addiction

While there are no statistics yet on whether Bill C-218 has led to an increase in gambling addictions, many experts believe that this is a real possibility. With the ease of access and increased availability of online sports betting sites, users may find themselves more prone to developing unhealthy habits.

It’s essential that individuals take steps to protect themselves against addiction. This might include setting limits on spending or time spent gambling or seeking professional help if they feel they have developed problematic behavior.


Final Thoughts

The passing of Bill C-218 and the rise of online sports betting have undoubtedly led to an increase in gambling activity among Canadians. While this can be seen as harmless entertainment for some individuals, others may develop problematic behaviors leading to addiction issues.

While Bill C-218 offers several economic benefits, it’s crucial that individuals take responsibility for their own actions when engaging with these sites and understand that while they can enhance their sports-viewing experiences, they also pose risks if not used responsibly. By being aware and taking steps towards responsible gambling practices, Canadians can enjoy all the benefits without falling victim to potential addiction issues associated with online sports betting.

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Charisse is a content contributor for Kika Casino. With a passion for audience experience and a focus on reliability, Charisse delivers fact-checked articles covering industry news and gaming tips.

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