Censorship and bans in France and Canada

Government regulation is creating problems for online gambling operators

The spectre of Internet censorship at national level through Internet Service Providers (ISPs) came a step closer last week when the French government regulator ARJEL went to the courts to obtain orders on ISPs blocking a blacklist of online gambling websites without French licensing.

In the same week, Canadian players on the Boss Media-powered Casino Club.com started receiving emails advising them that:

"We regret to inform you that due to the new regulations of the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, Loto-Québec and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, online gaming products in Canada are prohibited.

"Unfortunately we are required to add Canada to our list of excluded countries. Players from Canada will no longer be permitted to play at CasinoClub starting September 24th, 2010.

"In case you have a positive balance in your account, kindly withdraw it as soon as possible. Information on how to do so can be found on our website."

At this stage it is not clear whether this is a decision from the software provider or the operating company.

In the case of the ARJEL censorship, major and respected international online gambling groups were on a blacklist allegedly composed by ARJEL for ISPs and leaked late last week to igamingfrance.com.

Most of the companies on the list, dated July 15, had apparently either started cutting off French players using geo-targeting technology and account information or intended to do so anyway, and will cease marketing efforts in France. Reaction from the blocked companies has so far been muted.

Following the ARJEL complaint, the criminal department of the French Superior Court issued an order forcing French ISPs to block the following websites of 16 international operators:

* Globet

* Interwetten

* Jaxx

* Betfred

* 888sport

* 10bet

* 32red

* Betsson

* Stan James

* Bet24

* Centrebet

* Betcris

* Boylesports

* Paddy Power

* Stryyke

* Jetbull

The French action follows vigorously opposed moves by the Australian federal government to impose similar ISP bans (see previous InfoPowa reports), which have been widely crticised by Internet freedom bodies across the globe.

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