Senate Betting Redux

Canadian upper house still considering sports betting bill

by , Feb 11, 2013 | 9:20 am

Bill C-290 (eliminating the Canadian Criminal Code prohibition against single-event sports betting) is still before the Canadian Senate. My last update on C-290 on Pokerati was here. I also mentioned single-event sports betting in my predictions for Canadian gaming and betting in 2013 at Casino Enterprise Management.

The Senate is at the final stage of debating this bill. The final stage, however, may take some time. I have been told that the measure will not come up for a vote without the votes to pass it, but both sides seem confident that they’ll win out.

There has been some discussion of Rule 4-15(2) of the Senate Rules, which provides as follows: “Except as otherwise ordered by the Senate, any item of Other Business on the Order Paper and any motion or inquiry on the Notice Paper that have not been proceeded with during 15 sitting days shall be dropped from the Order Paper and Notice Paper.” As of tomorrow, there will have been no proceedings on Bill C-290 for eight days. An (enlargeable — click on it) screen shot of the Senate order paper for tomorrow is here:

Senate-C290

The link to tomorrow’s orders is here. The concern of some, apparently, is that if no action is taken on this item within fifteen sitting days, it will drop off the order paper. But what does that mean?

If something falls off the order paper, it is not defeated by the Senate, nor does it mean that it needs to go back to the House of Commons to be re-introduced or voted on again. The order paper is just the Senate’s agenda of pending business. If something is off the order paper, it is not an active item on the Senate’s agenda. Think of it as sitting in limbo until it gets put back on the order paper or there is an election to bring in a new Parliament.

As a practical matter, measures rarely fall off the order paper, but it can happen. If the matter is not taken up tomorrow, the ‘count’ on the order paper will flip up to nine and there will be six sitting days to address C-290. As the Senate sits for only three days per week, that’s two full weeks to “proceed with” single-event sports betting before it drops off. Furthermore, the count can be reset to zero by a senator simply asking for the matter to be adjourned to another sitting day.

One other thing to note is that, unlike the House of Commons, which has time limits on debate, there are no time limits at any stage of Senate debate. The Senate can talk about this bill until it comes to an up-or-down vote or there’s another general election.

We likely have some time before a final decision is taken on Bill C-290, but it’s early for proponents to panic. The sports betting bill was introduced to the Senate (after passing the Commons without objection) almost one year ago, and it sat in committee for months. Things in the Canadian Senate are rarely rushed; this change to the Code is no exception.