Online Gambling Changes Stalled in Canada

Published Wednesday, April 29, 2009 -

The Canadian Gaming Summit in Windsor, Ontario happening this April has created a stir among delegates and observers. It is thought that the ban in the USA on online gambling has stalled the political will for federal regulations in the Canadian landscape. Fears were expressed that the Canadian government may have the missed its opportunity to change the present laws.

Interprovincial online gambling is prohibited under Canada's Criminal Code but the rules are for the most part not enforced. It is estimated that the lack of enforcement has led to a situation in which Canadians are spending up to a billion Canadian dollars annually gambling with websites based offshore.

The vice-president of the Canadian Gaming Association, Paul Burns, said, "the regulatory void threatens to widen should moves initiated by Congressman Barney Frank gain traction in Washington DC." "The situation in Canada is not sustainable for much longer," adding, "Countries all around us are getting their act together," "What is happening in the US, in public policy terms, is happening fairly quickly, and this flow of money outside of Canada will increase exponentially if the US finds its own regulatory solution for online gambling."

It was suggested by Danielle Bush, from the Toronto-based law firm Chitiz Pathak LLP, that the close ties between the Harper government and the previous US administration had effectively placed a roadblock on moves at a federal level in Canada. Rather than being guided by the UK, where internet gambling was effectively legalized "The biggest problem, as always, is the politics," she said. "We're a lot closer physically to the US, but we've also gotten closer in terms of law enforcement."

The impasse in Ottawa means it is down to the provincial governments to seize the initiative. With Nova Scotia leading the way, a few of Canada's provinces are known to be making a move towards online gambling regulation and legalization.

Founding partner of consultants Debono Group, Terry Debono, said "Canada's door is locked but the windows are left open," he added, "Soon our cousins south of the border are going to do something on this, and we will have then lost our opportunity to be first to the market." he concluded "There isn't a coherent strategy yet," and "This is causing major turmoil for regulators as well as consumers..."

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