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Online gamblers move offshore to bet play poker online

Source:sites edit:casino time:2017-12-20

Editor's note: The second in a three-part series, running from now till Thursday, about online gambling.

PART 1: New generation, new gambling addicts

We’ll call him Ernest.

He has a high-profile job in Halifax and a hobby that is probably legal.

“I don’t really know the legalities — I think it’s more of a grey area,” said Ernest.

“I do know that my credit card won’t accept the transaction, so I have to use a bit of a workaround.”

Ernest’s great illicit activity is betting through offshore sites on sports games he sits down to watch with popcorn on a Friday or Saturday night.

Ernest isn’t alone.

According to H2 Gambling Capital, an online industry publication, Atlantic Canadians bet $90 million through offshore sites between January and November of this year. The Atlantic Lottery Corp., meanwhile, did $10 million in online business during the same period.

Online gambling is a big business that’s only projected to get bigger — H2 Gambling Capital projects it will grow by 80 per cent in Atlantic Canada by 2022.

Meanwhile, legislation that governs gambling in Canada remains mired in the pre-internet world when Crown corporations like Atlantic Lottery could be set up as monopolies that sent all profits back to their respective provincial governments.

“Why hasn’t government done anything about this?” asks Michael Lipton, a Toronto-based lawyer with experience in online gambling. “There are more important things in Canada, like fighting terrorism and money laundering, than offshore gaming.”

From Lipton’s reading of the legislation, this is where online gambling stands:

• It’s legal for any Canadian to gamble via offshore sites.

• It’s illegal for a Canadian to operate offshore sites.

• A non-Canadian operating an offshore site that takes bets from Canadians could probably be prosecuted if they came to this country and the government took an interest — which thus far it hasn’t.

Make mine a single

While Canada hasn’t sought to prosecute any of the owners of offshore sites, the Crown corporations created by the provinces to direct gambling income back into their own coffers are hamstrung to various degrees.

Provincial policy and federal laws prevent Atlantic Lottery from offering some of the most popular online games.

Ernest got into sports betting through Atlantic Lottery’s ProLine game. Through it, he would pick his winners for three games (it’s now two) and if all three won, he would get a payout.

He liked it but then he discovered that through offshore sites, he could just bet on individual games and get better odds.

“With my offshore account, I can make a bet on one game and, if it wins, I can win my money,” said Ernest.

“In ProLine, there are factors to increase the odds of Atlantic Lotto winning and decreasing my odds.”

But federal law, as it currently stands, prohibits anyone from offering bets on single matches.

So Atlantic Lottery, and its fellow Crown corporations across the country, can only offer what they call “parlay” betting with multiple matches.

“Government is aware of our position (on not being allowed to compete),” said Joey Cormier, director of marketing for Atlantic Lotto’s iLottery.

“It is with them to evaluate. The case is becoming more and more compelling year after year.”

Of the $90 million that Atlantic Canadians bet offshore this year, $22.4 million was on single-event sports games.

Atlantic Lottery hasn’t been given permission to offer the other two most popular types of online gambling, casino ($28.9 million) and poker ($18.9 million).

“We believe we are well situated to offer competitive games,” said Cormier.

The decision the two levels of government haven’t been making is whether to enforce the laws that exist on offshore operators or to allow domestic entities like Atlantic Lottery to compete.

Punish them or join them?

The Americans, so far, have largely taken Option A.

“They’re done a good job at putting the fear of God into a number of these offshore sites,” Lipton said.


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Never play online casino with money you can't afford to lose and be aware of the fact that gambling is not a way of earning money.

Gambling may cause pathological addiction if it is not enjoyed in moderation.

If you feel like you have to limit your gambling behavior, contact Gamcare for professional help.