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Prince Edward Island gambling legalisation stalls
Saturday March 16,2013 : CANADIAN PROVINCE ADMITS ONLINE GAMBLING LEGALISATION HAS STALLED
Prince Edward Island Finance Minister says province has already lost out on millions of dollars in tax and licensing revenue.
The Finance Minister for the Canadian provincial government of Prince Edward Island (PEI), Wes Sheridan, told the local Guardian newspaper this week that efforts to push ahead with an online gambling regulatory and licensing system have stalled, and that the provincial government has lost out on millions in tax and licensing revenues as a consequence.
"Right now we're at a dead end," Sheridan said.
Other Canadian provinces like British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba have already successfully embraced regulated online gambling, with Ontario due to follow this year.
Sheridan told the newspaper that the First Nation Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. first approached the provincial government in 2009 with the idea that the many First Nations tribes across the country share in gaming revenues.
"They wanted to come in and talk to us about that and they threw this [internet] idea at us," he said, revealing that the tribe proposed establishing a system to regulate online gaming across the country from a base in P.E.I., with the Confederacy and the province achieving financial benefits from the project.
The tribe commissioned a Transaction Platform Report through the European financial processing firm Simplex, and the province established a committee that included representatives from the provincial government and the tribe.
However, the committee hasn't done any work on the project for the past year, and while there were talks with other provinces, these didn't lead anywhere, Sheridan said, expressing concern at the lack of progress and the dangers from unregulated online operators that this posed for PEI punters.
Sheridan said that one of the complications in the project was the need for agreements with other regulated provinces if PEI gamblers were to have the facility of gambling in provinces other than their own, and to enable proper sharing of revenues between the governments involved.
A spokesperson for the Mi'kmaq Confederacy told the Guardian that the project had the potential to create significant economic development for First Nations entities in P.E.I., along with revenues for the provincial government.
She acknowledged that PEI gamblers were wagering regularly online without any government regulation or enforcement, and said the Confederacy proposal sought to remedy this.
Sheridan vowed that he wants to see online gaming regulated and said the province will continue to look for ways to provide people with a safe way to gamble on the internet.
“The industry is only going to grow as more people get involved in online gaming,” he said.
"We can either stick our heads in the sand and pretend it doesn't take place or we can find solutions ....as legislators I believe it is very, very important that we work toward a solution."
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