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Controversy Surrounds Winnipeg Gambling Center Plans

New gambling site launched in Canada, but downtown gambling remains controversial

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What would you call a place in town that has 140 slot machine terminals, video poker, roulette and blackjack tables? Definitely not a casino, according to Manitoba Lotteries, the Canadian province’s gambling operator.

Plans to open such an establishment in the provincial capital of Winnipeg this spring have run into some controversy. Controversy is not new to such plans, but here the government is the one pushing to have the gambling enterprise established.

Although under Canadian gambling laws Manitoba Lotteries would operate the place, the bulk of profits would go to the owner, True North Sports and Entertainment Limited. It doesn’t seem very beneficial for the government, but the reasons behind the move actually stretch back to 2011, when True North agreed to bring the NHL team Jets to Winnipeg.

At the time True North was promised this sort of financial recompense for its investments.

While Manitobans are proud of their new team, some have negative feelings about the so-called “downtown gambling centre”, fearing an increase in crime and poverty. Opposition leader Jon Gerrard claims that the move “may actually be an attempt to get money from people who are very poor and to cause more social problems rather than to address the very real social problems that are there.”

Manitoba Lotteries spokeswoman Susan Olynik denies that the place would encourage more gambling. Instead, she believes that it would clear up the Manitoba gambling scene.

“There are about 2,000 unregulated sites that are available to Manitobans with no assurance of game integrity, responsible gaming features and personal information security,” said Olynik.

Meanwhile the province’s residents have been given another venue for legal internet gambling in Canada, with the launch of Playnow, operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corp. Since the country does not provided licenses to commercial gambling operators, this is the only fully legal way for an online gambling site to operate there.

The new site provides sports betting, lottery, bingo, various casino games as well as being another place at which to play online poker in Canada.

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