The Canadian province of Manitoba is mulling the pros and cons of regulating online gambling, reports the publication Canoe, which quotes no less an authority than Manitoba Lotteries Minister Steve Ashton.
The minister revealed that the province has not yet made a final decision on the issue, but is actively considering the possibilities of offering its own government-run online gambling site, perhaps in
partnership with a reputable online gambling company yet to be identified.
“We’re looking at it but no decision has been made,” Ashton said. “This is on the agenda and will be looked at from all angles. There will probably be a decision sometime this year”. He added that a provincially regulated online gambling offering would obviously have safeguards like age verification, transfer limits, anti-money laundering and organised crime measures and secure payment assurances.
"You have a lot of unregulated sites, with no responsible gaming and no protection for the public," Ashton claimed. "We are looking at the situation, looking at whether we should be a part of that online option."
Problem gambling advocates like the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba have expressed concern that a government operated online gambling venture has the potential to attract more players to internet gambling, an environment unlike land casinos, where - it claims - no one can physically step in to stop addictive behaviour.
"How do you intervene? If someone is having a problem, how will we know?" says the Foundation's CEO John Borody, going on to apparently support the concept by saying: "Let's not put our heads in the sand. It is out there. There's an opportunity to intervene and that can
only be done through a government site."
Manitoba is one of several Canadian provinces that are either considering or are already involved in setting up strictly regulated online gambling operations, with some discussing reciprocal
arrangements with other provinces. Among those active in the area are British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime (Atlantic) provinces.
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