Another Canadian Province Embraces Online Gambling
This week was marked by a much anticipated launch of an online gambling site approved by the Quebec provincial government, as Loto Quebec finally released Espacejeux.com, whose launch was enabled with millions of dollars in promos and plenty of publicity in the Canadian media. This has made Quebec the second Canadian province to embrace the provincially regulated internet gambling.
Prior to this, The British Columbia Lottery Corporation launched its PlayNow.com site, and it is expected that Ontario will be the next one to follow these steps; also, First Nation Tribes in Saskatchewan are investigating pros and cons of online gambling, probably in partnership with the provincial government.
However, there are those that oppose the launch, like the Association québécoise des retraité des secteurs public et parapublic, standing for retired public and para-public workers, which called on all Quebecers older than 55 to boycott the site. It was stated by the Association's president, Luc Vallerand: “We think that Loto-Québec’s offer of Internet gambling is going to give them a false sense of security. Players will think that there is no danger or potential for problems on Loto-Québec’s site. And they may not (easily) see what it is costing them because a credit card can be used.”
A gambling researcher and member of the Montreal public health department’s advisory committee Jean-François Biron, occupied the same position and claimed that in countries where Internet gambling has recently been sanctioned by the state, gambling participation rates — and problems — have noted a growth.
He compared the UK and Sweden as an example, where the participation rate for people aged 55 to 64 was 2.7 percent in 2006, but jumped to eight percent in 2010, whereas the number of problem gamblers in Sweden among women age 45 to 64 doubled after state-sanctioned Internet gambling was introduced.
On the other side, Loto-Quebéc refused to provide the number of Quebecers who signed up initially or the figures of money wagered on the opening day. It was revealed that the online poker’s popularity doubled from over 800 players online by mid-morning to 1 600 by evening. A Loto Quebec spokesman specified that the domain is expected to have between 10,000 and 20,000 registered Quebecers before Christmas, and generate around Cdn50 million in revenues through 2012.
There is a wide range of casino games at Espacejeux, and next month it is planned to start collaboration with the British Columbia internet gambling venture, enabling players from both provinces to compete against each other on a common network based in Montreal.
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