Online Gambling Industry in Canada Faces a Crackdown
The online gambling market is on a verge of a very important change, and the main driving force advocating for this change is the Canadian government itself.
And while a new piece of legislation titled Quebec’s Bill 74 is waiting for the approval of the court, many believe its coming into effect would represent a drastic change in attitude towards operators based outside of Canada.
Quebec’s Bill 74 could directly put its hands into the pockets of foreign online gambling operators, preventing them from taking a significant portion of the revenue generated by the online gambling industry in Canada.
Why Does Canada Need a New Bill?
Under the current online gambling regulative in Canada, an online gambling site may offer betting to its customers only if the operator doesn’t have a land-based gaming venue in the country.
Such practice poses a problem for provincial crown corporations that operate their own gambling websites, such as Espacejeux and PlayNow. Canadian legislators are worried that due to these legal obstacles many players turn to gamble at offshore websites, where there is no player protection, and where all that revenue is not taxed.
There are no exact figures that could tell us how much money did the Canadian online gambling industry earned in the last year, but the estimates say that number was just a little over C$17 billion.
Let’s go back to Bill 74. This piece of legislation was approved by the Quebec provincial legislature two years ago, and it looks to address all of the issue described above. Under its provisions, local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be tasked with blocking foreign online gambling sites from offering their service to players in Canada. That way they’ll prevent gaming revenue from leaving the country.
Quebec already banned illegal poker sites back in 2015, and the reason for that was the fact they were eating the provincial revenues.
Loto-Quebec Is One of the Proponents of the New Bill
And although the provincial crown corporation is supporting the new piece of legislation, it hasn’t managed to gain much support elsewhere, at least not as quickly as Loto-Quebec had hoped.
Loto-Quebec operates EspaceJeux.com and passes on all of its profits to the government. The operator has pointed out on several occasions when its profits have gone down while profits of foreign-based operators have been on the rise.
Loto-Quebec was willing to allow foreign operators to offer services in Quebec provided they were willing to share a percentage of their profits with them.
The operator has already made a list of 2,000 gambling sites, and they have handed it over to the local ISPs. However, a number of ISPs didn’t want to handle the blacklisting of these sites, and as a response, they filed a complaint against it. Some consumer rights groups filed a complaint as well.
At this point, the case hasn’t been resolved, and many legal experts believe it will go all the way to the country’s Supreme Court.
If the court makes a decision in favour of this bill, the Canadian provincial authorities would be able to impose restrictions on internet access. That way, other local governments could decide to follow Quebec’s example.