Eastern wisdom

British Columbia has bet heavily on online gambling, launching its own Internet casino earlier this year. But on the opposite side of the country, three out of Canada's four Atlantic provinces have already folded on participating in a similar Web-based betting parlour proposed by the Atlantic Lottery Corp. And, according to New Democrat gambling critic Shane Simpson, that should give our own government cause to reconsider its bet.

Prince Edward Island was the most recent among those provinces to reject online gambling, with its finance minister Wes Sheridan telling the CBC last month the proposed casino wasn't the "right solution."

"So we are going to shelve the Atlantic Lottery proposal at this point and we are going to turn our immediate attention to the existing gamers that are here on P.E.I."

But Nova Scotia Finance Minister Graham Steele went even further in saying no to the proposal. He told The Canadian Press's Keith Doucette, "The thing that struck me was the idea that if we participated in online gambling we would get people into gambling who otherwise wouldn't."

That decision followed Newfoundland and Labrador's own rejection of online gambling, where the premier was personally opposed to the proposal. "From my perspective I'll be voting against it," said Danny Williams in an interview with the CBC this past August. "It's not going to happen."

Speaking with Public Eye, Mr. Simpson stated, "The government of British Columbia and the minister have been trying to tell us (online gambling) is a movement that's sweeping the country and that everybody's embracing. And, clearly, that's not accurate. There are provinces that are raising serious questions about it."

Citing the addiction risks associated with online gambling, the critic added, "If any area of gambling deserves a second look at this point and if the minister wanted to give any consideration to that, this is the first thing they should be looking at."

Solicitor General Rich Coleman, the minister responsible for gambling in British Columbia, was unavailable to speak with Public Eye at publication time. Nor did the Atlantic Lottery Corp. respond to a request for comment.

3 Comments

So Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia have had the good sense and decency to reject an online gambling set-up.

What does it take, to convince BC's government that casinos and online gambling are demeaning ways to entice Organized Crime to move a little closer to power.

Or do they understand all too well?

What a crazy system.

I have no problem with having casinos, where one can go and try one's luck. It is a form of entertainment and for the majority of people no big deal.

I do have a problem with government getting into online gambling. No matter how many safeguards the government states they have in place, eventually we will hear about some family whose underage kid was able to max out mom's or dad's credit card by logging on to Playnow BC. It is inevitable. If underage kids can get access to tobacco products and alcohol, both controlled and regulated items with relative little problem in the flesh, how can anyone expect that they will not be able to do the same when all they are really providing is an IP address?

Gordon Campbell and Kevin Krueger were almost apopelectic about casinos when they were in opposition, which were at least bricks and mortar facilities. What happened to the moral high ground they took at that time now?

Yes, Campbell and Krueger were hypocrites on this issue as well.

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