Momentum building to legalize single sports betting
'We'll be playing catch up, which is frustrating ... we just have to drive it now'
Key parties in Windsor-Essex met Monday to push momentum behind legalizing single sports betting. The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and Unifor Local 444 hosted the roundtable, attended by area political representatives and other key stakeholders.
NDP MP Brian Masse said the meeting was a good start to providing an exciting opportunity to Windsor-Essex.
"We have an advantage down here, with the local expertise, but it's not just a local issue," said Masse. "It affects organized crime across the country. We see it on the front lines because we have a great casino here."
Masse said Windsor is a great example of a "missed opportunity" but also a great place to see benefits.
"There's a lot of upside ... it can be made into a significant [opportunity] for our region," said Masse.
'Playing catch up'
One of the reasons for a renewed push for legalization of single sports betting is due to changes in sports betting laws in border states like Michigan.
"Border states in the U.S. will soon begin to take business away, threatening jobs in Canadian communities while we continue to sit on the sidelines," said Paul Burns, CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association.
Caesars Windsor regional president Kevin Laforet said the industry is about to fall behind the U.S.
"We'll be playing catch up, which is frustrating ... we just have to drive it now," said Laforet.
For Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy it's important to legalize single sports betting before Michigan does because of how many new jobs would come to the area with a legalized system.
A decade in the works
Burns said it's "unfortunate" that legalizing single sports betting has been a decade-long conversation — and there have been two failed attempts at passing legislation in the past.
"[All these parties] are willing to work together to make this happen," said Burns. "There's a real desire ... the community has been asking for this."
According to Burns, the Ontario provincial government has asked for legalized single sports betting at least eight times in the last decade.
Burns estimated single sports betting could be a $14 million industry in Canada.
According to Masse, if there's "political will" single sports betting could be legalized in just a few weeks. It can be introduced through a series of legislation, which could be pushed through quickly. Masse said the NDP have enough votes to make it happen right away.