Masse blasts feds for causing delay in single-event sports betting bill
In this May 14, 2018, file photo, men watch horse racing on an array of screens at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor’s gaming industry has been dealt a blow by the prorogation of Parliament, according to Windsor West MP Brian Masse.
On Friday, Masse was joined by Unifor Local 444 members, including president Dave Cassidy, outside of Caesars Windsor to highlight the added delay a prorogued Parliament will create for a private members’ bill aiming to legalize single-event sports betting in Canada.
“We were promised in this past election a sports betting fix would be an easy one to get done and here we are a year later — more problems, more delay,” said Masse.
Bill C-218 was introduced by Conservative MP Kevin Waugh in February but, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to prorogue Parliament wipes clean the current Parliamentary agenda and ends the legislative session.
The move to prorogue Parliament came following the surprise resignation of former finance minister Bill Morneau, who was replaced by Chrystia Freeland.
Local 444 represents roughly 2,400 employees at Caesars Windsor, the city’s second-largest employer behind Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles.
“This is a decade-old file that we’ve been working on in our local alone,” said Cassidy.
Speaking from the entrance of Caesars Windsor overlooking the Detroit River, Cassidy noted the ability for single-event sports betting to be carried out online and the lost opportunity for the local gaming industry to not be able to take part.
“Right across the ditch behind us, they’re opened up at 15 per cent capacity right now and they have single-sports betting,” said Cassidy. “That’s our competition.”
Cassidy also decried public health protocols that have prevented the “pod” format of re-opening gaming centres from being implemented, which Cassidy says could see 50 people enter at a time to the casino floor in designated areas and send 600 employees back to work.
During a pandemic where indoor capacity is being tightly limited, Masse points to online single-event wagering as a significant source of revenue for gaming companies like Caesars Windsor.
According to Masse, the lost revenue is in the millions of dollars and slammed the governing Liberals for failing to modernize Canada’s gambling laws.
“Because of the delays, because of the broken promises and because of the real fact that they really don’t do the hard work that’s necessary — we don’t have any of that,” said Masse. “What do we have? We have locked doors. We have revenue going outside Canada. We have revenue going to organized crime that we then have to pay the police to reign in. These are real, real consequences.”
Cassidy noted his optimism of a $37-billion extension to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit and changes to Employment Insurance to help give security to laid-off workers but, still stressed the need to get back to work.
“It’s so important that we get this facility open,” said Cassidy. “Until we can get moving forward with that, it’s a problem.”
A Throne Speech to reset the government’s Parliamentary agenda is expected in the fall, which sets up a confidence vote that could trigger a 2020 election.