Proof that there is a super-abundance of demand in Canada for legal and government regulated gambling over the internet was dramatically afforded Friday, when the official Play Now.com website launched that day by the British Columbia provincial government’s BC Lottery Corporation crashed within the first day due to popular demand.
BC Lottery president Michael Graydon said the Openbet-powered gambling software generated so much business that the site had to be temporarily closed for maintenance.
"It's been an overwhelming success with people in British Columbia to the point where we hit 100 percent capacity in the first day," Graydon said late Friday.
"So we decided to close the site down for a half a day, and add some new hardware and servers to the system to be able to accommodate the demand. We're in the process of doing that. Our IT people are working very hard to get it up and running again."
The gambling pages on the site were still not operational by early Saturday morning PT, with the website still sporting a notification that read: “We are experiencing technical difficulties and will have the matter corrected shortly. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you.”
Billed as the first government-sanctioned online casino in North America, the site has generated some political and anti-gambling criticism as being more about raising money for the provincial government than protecting BC players by offering a government regulated facility (see previous InfoPowa report).
B.C. Minister of Housing and Social Development Rich Coleman says that the estimated Cdn$100 million the site is expected to generate will help funding for education, social programs and health care by capturing gambling revenue that would normally flow to illegal offshore gambling websites.
The standard sign-up bonusing common in the international industry has particularly inflamed some opposition politicians.
New players who sign up get Cdn$10 to gamble with, and anyone who spends Cdn$100 before the end of August gets another Cdn$100 free…with wager-through conditions.
NDP house leader Mike Farnworth objected to this, telling reporters Friday: "No one says, 'Why don't you pop into a B.C. liquor store and we'll give you a free case of beer.' I don't think they should be offering incentives for people to go try online gaming."
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