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Canadians Question Sports Betting Regulation of their Country

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In light of the recent hockey scandal, Canadians are beginning to question their own ambiguous attitude towards sports gambling. Gambling on sporting events is illegal in Canada unless it is through the national lottery, and many Canadians say that it is hypocritical to run the country’s largest gambling operation and, in the next breath, condemn professional sports gambling bookies. Many also say that the government’s attitude toward sports gambling may lead the country in a dangerous direction.

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Betting on sports, especially on the national favorite pastime of hockey, is a much-loved activity of many Canadians. The Canadian government offers sports gambling alongside pick- six and scratch- off lottery games. The other option for Canadians looking to engage in sports gambling is to seek out the hundreds and perhaps thousands of illegal bookmakers found throughout each province.

Many professionals object to the legal sports gambling in Canada because they say that it sends the wrong message to young people. First of all, although the minimum gambling age is 18, many Canadian children as young as 13 say that they can easily find a lottery vendor to let them play. Also, others express concern about the mixed message they are sending about gambling.

The leader of the International Centre for Youth Gambling at McGill University, Jeffrey Derevensky, believes that the fact that the government operates, and profits from, sports betting, sends a double and confusing message to Canada’s young people.

Even the NHL is unhappy with the message that the Canadian government is sending by sponsoring gambling on hockey games.

A spokesman from the Quebec Lottery said that close to a million dollars per week is bet on NHL games. Since gambling on only one game is illegal in Canada, player must bet on at least two games on each lottery ticket. Bets start at $2.

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