Canadian gambling laws permit each of the country’s provinces to create their own regulations relating to online gambling. While several Canadian provinces offer limited online gambling services, there are no official online gaming websites available in Quebec. This may be changing by early next year, as the province’s official lottery provider, Loto-Québec, has requested permission to launch an online poker website.
If Loto-Québec gains government approval to offer internet poker, the site will be launched in conjunction with British Colombia and the other Atlantic provinces, all of which already offer online poker sites in Canada. The new site will therefore offer locally-operated internet poker to players across the country. Canadians spent an estimated $675 million gambling online in 2008, and this amount is expected to climb to $1 billion by 2012.
The proposed poker site would be the first legal internet gambling service available in Quebec. Players in the region do gamble online, but they do so by patronizing any of several thousand foreign online gaming sites. While this practice is not exactly legal, it is not illegal either – like in many countries, the use of foreign-hosted online gambling websites falls into a legal “grey area”.
Loto-Québec has two goals in this operation. The first is to offer a trustworthy place where locals can play online poker in Canada. While most foreign-hosted internet poker sites are safe and trustworthy, the establishment of a site hosted in Canada would allow local control and regulation over the services, which some players would prefer.
Loto-Québec is also interested in the financial prospects of legal internet gaming. The millions that Canadian player spend each year gambling online is potential profit that is essentially being funneled out of the country’s economy and into the hands of foreign operators. The lottery provider is already a widely recognized brand, which makes them a natural choice as the province’s first legal provider of online gambling.
It is not certain yet whether the Canadian government will authorize the lottery company’s request, but one thing is certain – online gambling in Canada is a trend that is not stopping any time soon.