Local Officials Push to Legalize Single Sports Betting

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Single sports betting was front and centre at a meeting of key local stakeholders in Windsor.

Part of the urgency is the state of Michigan is currently in the process of legalizing it, which would give casinos across the river an advantage.

A roundtable discussion took place Monday morning organized by the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce and Unifor Local 444, which represents Windsor workers.

"With the sports bet that can happen here, we need the food and beverage end of it as well as the sports books, I don't know what that number will be but I mean, the numbers that came out from the Canadian Gaming Association back in the day, was between 100 and 150 jobs," says Unifor Local 444 President Dave Cassidy.

Legalizing single sports betting has failed twice in Ottawa in the past seven years — dating back to Windsor-Tecumseh NDP MP Joe CoMartin, but given Michigan's move, local officials believe it is time for action in the House of Commons.

Local officials believe 'inaction' will put Windsor behind the eight ball.

It is estimated there is illegal single sports betting take place in Canada worth $14-billion. 

CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association Paul Burns, who attended Monday's meeting,  says there is more support now for single sports betting.

"The biggest thing that has changed in the last 12 months is the professional sports leagues have changed," says Burns.  "That was the last impediment that was removed from the equation was the professional sports leagues in North America are now in favour of this. They have asked for this change from the federal government, they have communicated that."

Ceasars Windsor Regional President Kevin Laforet says if approved in Ottawa, it would take at least a year to implement it at Caesars Windsor.

"it is going to be a challenge for us," adds Laforet. "35 per cent of our business comes from the U.S so now they have to drive by three Detroit casinos to visit us, and we have a great product, great service, great employees but they will now have another advantage."

Mayor Drew Dilkens, MP's Brian Masse and Irek Kusmierczyk, Caesars Windsor and tourism officials also attended today's meeting.