Big news for advocates of legal Internet gambling in Canada, as the government of British Columbia yesterday launched its own casino website. This is the very first government-authorized Internet casino to open for business in North America.
Upon publicly presenting the online casino, Minister of Housing and Social Development Rich Coleman stated that British Columbia citizens spent an estimated $100 million at some 2,000 unregulated gambling websites per year. “Of these websites,” Coleman said, “not one is accountable to the residents of British Columbia, not accountable to the players that play on their sites and not accountable to the laws of this country.”
British Columbia Lottery Corporation president Michael Graydon has stated that the website could earn the government up to $40 million in revenue.
Estimates from the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, gambling in British Columbia earned about $2.52 billion dollars in revenue in fiscal year 2009, while British Columbian government earned $1.07 billion in revenue from gambling.
Online gambling law in Canada is in flux, with the national law not rigidly defined and provinces left to set their own regulations. Quebec is currently making way for Internet gambling regulation and Manitoba is also considering some legalization of online gambling. Most Canadian players simply play at any online casino which accepts Canadians, still the majority on the Internet.