CANADIAN PROVINCE IN PROTECTIONIST MOVE ON INTERNET GAMBLING
British Columbia fires a warning shot across international operator bows.
The Canadian province of British Columbia, which runs its own cosy PlayNow.com online gambling monopoly, moved to protect it last month by warning off major international online gambling companies, according to online media reports that have just surfaced.
Apparently the BC Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch corresponded with a number of online gambling operators accessing BC online punters to give them its interpretation of Canadian provincial and federal law on internet gambling, claiming that the British Columbia Lottery Corporation holds the exclusive rights to offer online gambling, and that said operators may be committing both provincial and even federal offences by trespassing on its market.
Certainly the federal aspect of that statement is questionable, given that many legal specialists have opined that the Canadian Criminal Code is not transgressed if an operator is located outside Canadian national borders.
The BC Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch letter also rather ominously, advises the operators that it is collaborating with other Canadian provinces in sharing lists of operators trespassing on its market, and that it has plans to conduct discussions with unnamed European regulators on the subject (perhaps a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate?)
Whether British Columbia will go as far as Quebec in trying to ISP-block offending operators is not known. The up swell of resistance to the Quebec attempt to protect its own Espacejeux online monopoly may be giving the BC enforcers pause for thought, especially since the federal communications authorities have nixed the idea that a province can impose its will on the internet.
The rather incestuous nature of provincial online gambling, where the provinces both own and regulate online gambling enterprises, has previously raised eyebrows and will continue to do so if blatant protectionism continues to be part and parcel of government enforcement.