ONTARIO PREMIER HAS AN OPEN MIND ON ONLINE GAMBLING
26 February 2010
"Virtual gambling is a reality and the
Ontario government obviously cannot ignore it for long"
Dalton McGuinty, the Premier of the Ontario province in
Canada, has followed up on comments earlier this week by
the chairman of Ontario Lottery and Gaming that
consideration should be given to the province's
involvement in online gambling (see previous InfoPowa
The Canadian mainstream media gave wide
coverage this week to comments by McGuinty that Obtario
should be looking at the online gambling sector,
possibly in concert with at least three other Canadian
provinces with similar ideas.
is a reality and the Ontario government obviously cannot
ignore it for long," said Premier McGuinty. “The issue
is whether or not we should be involved in that, and I
think we’re going to have to make a call,” he added.
“It’s something we can’t avoid.”
appointed chairman of the OLG, Paul Godfrey, said last
week he wants the province to provide Internet gambling
instead of watching potential revenues go to other
provinces and offshore websites.
governments know they’re losing out on money that’s
being spent at the more than 2 000 online gambling
sites, said Dr. Jeff Derevensky of McGill University.
“They’ve done the studies,” said Derevensky, an
academic with the university’s International Centre for
Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviours.
“If they can recoup a slice of it, then that could
be better used in government-run programs.”
Allowing the OLG to offer gambling on the Internet
doesn’t raise the same type of ethical questions as
blocking the sale of beer and wine in corner stores,
“We can control whether or not
there’s corner-store sales for beer and wine, [but]
Internet gambling is taking place,” he said. “The issue
is what do we want to do in the face of that?”
The Opposition said the Ontario government would need to
make sure young people who shouldn’t be gambling don’t
access Internet gambling sites.
“The issue we
need to deal with is the impact of it,” said Progressive
Conservative critic Christine Elliott. “We need to make
sure there are some controls in place to protect young
The Ontario politicians are
watching developments in British Columbia, the Atlantic
provinces and Quebec, all of which have expressed an
interest in the sector provided there are appropriately
Quebec politicians have
already given a green light to Loto-Quebec (see previous
InfoPowa reports) which plans to launch an online poker
site in the fall of 2010 with Finance Minister Raymond
Bachand predicting the province will pull in about $50
million in dividends after three years.
Atlantic Lottery Corporation’s website, in operation for
six years, has five interactive games including Hold’em
Poker. British Columbia offers online poker, and imposes
a $10 000 a week limit on gamblers.
Canada Lottery Corp., which oversees gambling in the
three Prairie provinces and the three territories, has
said it has no plans to move into online gambling.
The U.S. Treasury Department estimates online
gambling in that country is a $16 billion a year
industry despite enforcement activities and legislative