CFL release new national campaign as former Commissioner champions sports betting

The Canadian Football League (CFL) 2021 season kicks off next month and the league has released a video campaign titled ‘Rise With Us’ in both English and French to mark its return.

After taking a 20-month break due to the rampaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CFL has been scheduled to return on August 5 with an exciting first week of games.

In what would be a rematch of the 107th Grey Cup final, defending champions Winnipeg Blue Bombers would play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the first game of the new season.

The opening game week continues with Saskatchewan Roughriders hosting the BC Lions in the first Friday night game of the new season. On the first Saturday night of the game week, there would be two games played. First, the Toronto Argonauts travel west to battle it out with the Calgary Stampeders and to complete the opening week of fixtures, the Edmonton Elks would play host to the Ottawa Redblacks.

With the football season back, many punters would be looking to place bets on their favourite teams, especially now that the future of online betting looks quite bright.

Currently, betting isn’t entirely illegal in Canada, though players can always enjoy their favourite online casino games Canada. But with sports betting, only parlays are legal and single-game sports betting is still deemed illegal in the country.

Former commissioner of the CFL, Larry Smith and a current member of the Senate’s banking committee would be part of the panel taking a closer look at bill C-218. Introduced last year, this private member’s bill was pitched by Kevin Waugh, a Conservative member from Saskatchewan for the legalization of single-game sports betting in the country.

The proposed bill will be thoroughly assessed by the committee, allowing senators to hear both sides of the argument—those in support of its legalization and those who are against it. Once the hearing has been done, the committee would then submit a report on the bill to the Senate, where it would be reviewed again for the third time.

If bill C-218 passes this stage as well, it would be presented before Richard Wagner, the Chief Justice of Canada, for a final evaluation and royal assent.

The push for the legalization of single-game sports betting in Canada is not new to Smith, who would be involved in a similar hearing for the second time during his tenure as a senator. In 2015, the New Democratic Party (NDP) received tremendous party support from the House of Commons, but unfortunately, never made it past the Senate approval stage.

Also in 2016, just a year after, another NDP member, Brian Masses launched a similar private member’s bill that is yet to go through the House of Commons.

However, Smith is quite confident that the current bill would have a much different fate considering the incredible amount of support it has now.

“It’s fair to say there’s more momentum this time around as opposed to the time five or six years ago,” said Smith during an interview. “I think there’s more of an openness within society as a whole, at least within North America and in some other countries in the world, to be able to recognize that this is a reality of the times we live in.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing massive disruptions, the CFL had to suspend league games last year, losing between $60-$80 million, according to reports. However, illegal betting is a billion-dollar industry in Canada, with many punters taking their money to offshore sites, illegal bookmakers and U.S. casinos.

As a former CFL commissioner, Smith surely realizes the need to boost the league’s financial status and legalizing gambling can be a huge source of revenue for the league. Nonetheless, he warns that while the idea of making single-game sports betting legal in the country is highly welcomed, the revenue generated from gambling activities should be used wisely and not just on improving the league but the entire community in general.

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