Canadian gambling laws are tricky. While land based betting is generally legal, the laws regulating online gambling are more convoluted. Though the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, just outside of Montreal licenses and hosts many online casinos in Canada, the government itself does not give out any licenses. Instead every province sets its own laws regarding both land-based and online gaming.
With the internet fueling a global internet betting industry, Canadian governments are among many which see revenue opportunities escaping. As such, the government of Nova Scotia revisited the issue.
Premier Darrell Dexter consulted both gambling experts and members of the public before deciding against government-sanctioned internet wagering. He felt to do otherwise would be inconsistent with the province’s explicit objective of trying to reduce the total damage resulting from gambling in its various incarnations.
While the Premier admitted that his government is incapable of regulating online casinos in other regions, he asserted that officials shouldn’t place their “heads in the sand” when confronting the effects of abusive betting.
His finance minister Graham Steele was originally in favor of permitting internet betting. Yet, he became discouraged when he saw research suggesting that the government’s participation would effectively encourage people to gamble even when they haven’t otherwise been so inclined. Though his government is struggling with a $203 million deficit, he found it effortless to choose between merely potential revenue and “do[ing] the right thing.”
A proposed gambling strategy is not expected until later this year, or even next year. The Premier released his decision ahead of this strategy to remove any uncertainty about the direction the government will be taking.
Regardless of government involvement, Nova Scotia Gaming Corp’s CEO Marie Mullally noted, Internet gambling in Canada will keep on growing.