British Columbia Takes On Offshore Online Gambling

Now it is the turn of the Canadian province of British Columbia to act against offshore online casino companies offering services on its turf. It has not gone to the extent of asking Internet service providers to block web sites. Its action is seen more as intimidation than legal offensive.

The Gaming Policy Enforcement agency of British Columbia issued letters to 19 online gambling operators who are accepting bets from residents of the province. The letters stated that by accepting wagers, the offshore gambling operators could be violating the Gaming Control Act and the Criminal Code of Canada. The missives pointed out that in British Columbia the regulatory agency to oversee online gambling is the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and no company may offer online gambling services in the province without expressed approval from it. Contrary to the content of the letter, legal experts have opined that the Canadian Criminal Code clearly states that offshore companies offering online gambling services are not breaking any laws provided they do not have a physical presence in the country. The Gaming Policy Enforcement agency takes this intimidation strategy to the next level. The letters issued to the offshore online gambling operators state that their information has been shared with other provinces in Canada. British Columbia will enter into discussions about the legalities of their operating in Canada with other provinces.

There has been speculation as to why this move has been initiated by the province of British Columbia. The recent promotion of its online gambling web site has resulted in stellar revenues, surpassing $135 million. But much higher revenues are required and competition from offshore operators seems to be a stumbling block. These international operators offer a far greater range of gaming alternatives, and with better odds. Both Ontario and Quebec, who operate their own monopolistic online casino sites, are engaged in similar struggles. Experts feel that the BCLC will have very limited options if the offshore online gambling sites opt to ignore the warning, which they are likely to do. The route taken by Loto-Quebec of trying to get the IP addresses blocked was defeated by the Canadian Communications regulator.

Gambling experts are also pointing out that the Canadian online gambling provincial monopolies function both as a regulatory agency and as an operator, which is a conflict of interest. This essentially makes those provincial government operated sites as good as unregulated. The right way forward is not to block the competition but become better than it.

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