The intention of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation to enter the online gambling arena by March 2010 has resurfaced in the Canadian media following last week's announcement that it is to increase its wagering limit from $120 a week to $10 000 a week.
Critics of the lottery's plans claim that the significant increase is designed to better accommodate forthcoming online gambling on Internet casino-type games.
One columnist – The Colonist – noted this week: "British Columbia does not want to be left out in the cold when it comes to the millions of dollars that are being generated at online casinos. That is why the B.C. Lottery Corp. plans to begin offering online casino games by next March.
"The move is creating much controversy, especially since the PlayNow website, which is operated by by the B.C. Lottery Corp., has announced plans to up the gambling limit. It is clearly a move in preperation of the new casino games."
B.C. Lottery Corporation CEO, Michael Graydon said: "Rather than [online gambling revenues] all going to offshore places like Antigua, there's an opportunity to keep it here in British Columbia."
Media reports indicate that the Liberal BC government introduced online lottery sales in 2007 with a wagering limit of $70 a week to protect BC residents from the risk of addiction and serious financial losses. Since then the limit had been upped to $120 a week, and now to $10 000 a week….all without further research into the implications of such a move.
A B.C. Medical Association report on addictions this year found some 33 000 British Columbians have a severe gambling problem and another 128 000 have moderate problems with gambling. That number more than doubled between 2002 and 2005, as the government rapidly expanded land gambling in the province.