Editorial – Canada doesn’t need legalized sports betting

Mac Olsen

Fast on the heels of legalizing marijuana in Canada, there are calls from certain quarters to legalize sports betting, but given how destructive gambling addiction can be to individuals and their families, it should not be allowed.

Jim Warren wrote an op-ed piece in the November 3 Toronto Sun. In the piece entitled ‘Canada is losing out on sports betting spoils’, Warren advocates that the federal government should legalize sports betting.

“The Canadian government’s failure to legalize sports betting in Canada is costing us hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue, investment and job creation as the United States gaming and sports betting industry is being transformed and has massive growth as a result of legalized sports betting,” Warren says in his op-ed piece.

“There was huge news this past week in the sports and gambling industries as the National Hockey League announced a multi-year strategic relationship in the sports betting industry with MGM Resorts International. The announcement naming MGM Resorts the NHL’s first official sports betting partner was made by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York City.

“The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our League,” said Bettman.

Warren goes on to say that Canada could have led the way with sports betting like they did with marijuana.

“Now we have to act quickly to play catch up with a huge transformation going on south of the border.”

No, Mr. Warren – we don’t need to play catch up with the U.S. As it is, how many billions of dollars are gambled away each year by Canadians in casinos, race tracks, lotteries, bingo and private poker games?

And where is the morality in creating “investment” and “employment” opportunities related to sports betting? In my analysis, creating these opportunities would come at the expense of increasing gambling addiction and social strife.

So I put that question to you, Mr. Warren. Have you considered how many more people wind up with gambling addictions and lose their families and/or employment as a consequence of sports betting? Do you not see that kind of potential damage – or do you simply shrug your shoulders and look the other way?

As for taxation of sports betting, Warren sounds like a tax-and-spend liberal. Tax, tax, tax. Doesn’t the federal government already tax Canadians enough?

As an alternative, why don’t Canadians just surrender every cent that they make to the federal government? Then liberals and socialists alike can say that every member of Canadian society is equally poor and dependent on the federal government for their existence.

Sports betting may be a reality in the U.S., but it also has prominence in the media. For instance, professional poker tournaments are broadcast on sports channels in Canada and the U.S., to promote the dream that you can make it too, if you have the will and skill.

And yes, there are regulations across the country regarding how casinos and lotteries operate, and non-profit organizations depend on casino licences to acquire funds for their various projects.

Moreover, government agencies like Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis put out advertisements for people to “know your limit” and “play responsibly.”

But legalized sports betting in Canada, as Bettman would like to have for the NHL, would only compound the addictions issue exponentially. So, let’s turn down all attempts at legalizing sports betting in Canada.

The psychological and financial harm that gambling already does to many people in this country doesn’t need to be exasperated by sports betting.


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