CANADIAN LOTTERY INTERESTED IN ONLINE POSSIBILITIES
But Newfoundland and Labrador province has other priorities.
Official documents recently obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation during an investigation have shown that earlier this year the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, which covers several of the smaller Canadian provinces in the Atlantic coastal area, made an approach to their governments regarding the possible introduction of online gambling.
The reaction of other provinces is not known, but the Newfoundland and Labrador government was apparently less than enthusiastic about the prospect, which it did not regard as a priority.
The documents, obtained through Access to Information legalization, show that in the case of the N&L approach, ALC chief executive Brent Scrimshaw had two meetings with the provincial finance minister, Cathy Bennett and briefed her on the challenges faced by the Lottery due to changes to the gaming environment, and the "lightning-speed developments" in online and mobile device use.
The Lottery described the "proliferation of e-gaming and its undeniable trend as the future of lottery," and the activity of the ALC in "moving aggressively to ensure that it has the right games delivered through the right channels."
In its proposal, the ALC discussed the procedures for approvals, procurement, and software development through 2016, with a launch in early 2017 of casino-style products, including slot games and table games like blackjack and roulette.
The Lottery noted that its website already has a web portal and player account management system in place, reducing the cost of introducing online casino activity. It also pointed out that the provinces of British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario have entered the online casino sector.
The proposal suggested that current online providers are taking nearly Cdn$60 million out of Atlantic Canada each year, and that an e-casino in Atlantic Canada could deliver Cdn$122 million in net revenue and Cdn$80 million in net profit over seven years.
If the project was approved, capital and start-up costs would come from the provincial governments share of Atlantic Lottery profits, the documents suggested.
Approached for comment last week, Minister Bennett responded: "The provincial government has indicated to ALC that iCasino is not a priority at this time," a conclusion reached after discussions with provincial stakeholders.
Also responding to CBC, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation appeared to have accepted the decision, observing: "While Atlantic Lottery currently offers games online at ALC.ca, there has been no decision reached regarding casino-style games."
Our readers will recall that a 2012 scandal over the alleged waste of tax-payer monies is still reverberating around the Prince Edward Island provincial government over its abortive attempt to set up a tribal online gambling regulatory jurisdiction.