Atlantic Lottery says Criminal Code of Canada restrictions on sport betting do not apply to other events, leaving it free to take single bets on the Academy Awards on Feb. 24.

The lottery corporation believes allowing people to place wagers on what films and actors will take home Oscars next month is not subject to the same criminal code restrictions as sports betting. That has led the lottery corporation to change the way people in the region can gamble on it.

Legal sports betting in New Brunswick is run also by ALC, through Pro-Line, a game with a significant restriction. Gamblers cannot put money on a single game at a time.


The Atlantic Lottery Corp. is allowing single-event betting on the Academy Awards. However, single-event betting is not allowed on sports. (CBC)

Players must bet on multiple sporting events on each ticket and at the same time and win all of them if they hope to cash in.

Pete Ferguson, an owner of a sports bar in Saint John, said the return of hockey means the resumption of sports betting.

"We get lots of customers coming in here with their printouts and the odds and figuring out their tickets and their bets and what they might win and it's hugely popular," he said.

There is a proposal working its way through Parliament that could end the restriction on single-event sport.

The impetus behind the federal bill is to squeeze out illegal gaming. Illegal online betting on single sports events is hugely popular, with estimates of up to $10 billion a year going to gambling sites that are operated offshore and are often connected to organized crime.

New Brunswick Liberal Sen. Joe Day said he doesn't know much about the movies but says political odds are stacked against single game sport betting.

The House of Commons approved the measure last year but senators are split on the issue and may well kill it, according to Day.

"I think the Conservatives will be slow in bringing this up for a vote, which means it may never get resolved," he said.

"It might just die a natural death."

If that is the case, Oscar wagers may be it for single event wagering in Atlantic Canada.

This isn't the first time the Atlantic Lottery Corp. has gambled on a new type of gaming. The New Brunswick government invested $4 million into the GeoSweep game.

The game allows players to buy squares of property from a mapped grid of Atlantic Canada for 25 cents each per day.

A computer randomly selects a square daily from 2.3 million in play and the jackpot goes to the owner.

In October, Finance Minister Blaine Higgs said the provincial government was "re-evaluating" its investment in the GeoSweep game.