New Canadian gaming coalition urges crackdown on illegal online operators

| By Robert Fletcher
Five provincial gaming corporations in Canada have formed a new coalition in an effort to combat illegal online gambling in the country and lobby the federal government to take action over unlicensed activities.

The Provincial Lottery Corporations will comprise the British Columbia Lottery Corporation; Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis; Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation; Loto-Quebec; and Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

The five bodies will collectively urge Canada’s government to continue to work with provincial authorities and regulators to tackle illegal websites and misleading advertising that the group said can lead to consumers suffering from gambling-related harm.

Commercial gambling is illegal in Canada unless controlled by a provincial government. This oversight, the coalition said, helps protect players by offering controlled environments to play, protection from predatory practices, age-gating, safe play resources to support healthy play, and accountability to the public. The province of Ontario has set up a licence system, all of the provinces represented by bodies in the coalition operate monopolies.

The coalition said in each province where all of its members offer legal gambling, offshore operators are also active and promote their illegal websites by advertising mirror “free-to-play” sites, in particular during popular live sporting events.

As these advertisements broadcast nationally, the coalition said this blurs the line between provincially regulated gaming sites and illegal operators.

To combat this, the coalition will work to raise public awareness about the prevalence of illegal operators and advise media platform owners of their duty to comply with existing laws and regulations by refusing to accept misleading ads for illegal gambling sites.

The group will also encourage the federal government to enforce laws and regulations to shut out these operators from the markets where members of the Provincial Lottery Corporations operate.

“Research shows that the majority of players are unaware of whether an online site is legal in their province or not,” Atlantic Lottery Corporation president and chief executive Patrick Daigle said. “This is a significant amount of money that could be staying right here in our region to fund public services, but instead continues to be taken away from helping our communities to the sole benefit of illegal operators.”

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation president and chief executive Manny Atwal added: “The members of our coalition return their profits back to the province in which they operate.

“These profits help fund important programs and services like healthcare, education, and community programs. Illegal gambling websites advertise to Canadian players but often operate outside of Canada, taking the profits with them.”

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