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Online Casino News - March, 2008

Canada's Horsetracks Call for Online Betting Regulation



 Seed Newsvine

by Margaret Oliveira, News Staff Writer

March 8, 2008

Following the announcement of Canada's Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, that the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and Canadian operated online casinos could be targeted in an online gambling prohibition of sorts very soon, the Canadian horseracing industry has chimed in with their two cents worth. Seeing the apparent value of regulating the industry, rather than banning it outright, Canada's leading racetrack owners are calling for the government to either block Canadian facing online betting sites from doing business with Canadian citizens, or, open the legislative landscape so that operators can tap into this multi-billion dollar industry.

In other words, the Canadian horse racing industry supports Minister Nicholson's motivations, but are wondering if there are other "options" before taking it that far. Other options, of course meaning how they can profit off of such an extreme maneuver. I suppose you could also look at it from the perspective that Canada's racetracks are losing millions in dollars to offshore betting companies, which is a legitimate perspective to say the least. The Woodbine Entertainment Group reports they have already lost approximately $200 million to offshore betting sites.

With numbers like these, regulation does indeed appear to be the solution that makes everyone a winner. Well, that is, all except the horses. And if you want to count the losing bettors as well, I guess it's impossible to make everybody happy.

The bottom line is that Canadian's like to gamble online. And despite current laws that prohibit all forms of online gambling, except for online lottery ticket sales, internet betting via telephone accounts at horserace tracks, and exchange betting between individuals, Canadians continue to spend millions every year at online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks. And without due enforcement of the law, Canadian citizens will assuredly continue to do so.

The rub of the matter is that Canada's discontent apparently is the discontent that just about every other nation which has tried banning online gambling experiences: protecting their gambling interests. Even the U.S., which claims its motivations are to protect problem gamblers and minors, has written carveouts for the horseracing industry, not to mention fantasy sports betting. Considering the large sums of money these private interests have donated to politicians and used for lobbying, the grey area of online gambling gets even greyer.

According to a spokesperson for the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which licenses over 400 online betting sites from the Kahnawake reserve just south of Montreal, the Mohawks of Kahnawake sent a letter to the Canadian government nine years ago, outlining their intentions to regulate online gambling. Since there was no response, the Mohawks went forward with their plans. Now that it's nine years later, and only after the online gambling industry has proven to be such a lucrative industry, is the government beginning to speak out. Not once has Minister Nicholson made a gesture to speak with the Mohawk Grand Chief and work out a resolution, which the Mohawks have openly stated they are willing to discuss. Things that make you go hmmm.



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