Canada’s Prince Edward Island Close to Launching Online Gambling

A newly-proposed and expedited online gambling legislation in Prince Edward Island province in Canada has raised some criticism for lack of following due process.

P.E.I Wrestles with Opposition over Online Casino Gambling

Canada’s Prince Edward Island maritime province is forging ahead with a plan to launch online casino, circumnavigating some due process which has, in turn, elicited criticism. The province plans to run online casinos through the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, but no public consultation has been launched on the matter, making for a fraught relationship between proponents and opponents.

Darlene Compton, who serves as P.E.I.’s finance minister and head of the province’s Lotteries Commission, has argued that the ALC is put in place to ensure that public consultation and legalization of gambling is done as mandated by law.

The ALC can only launch online gambling once it has carried all necessary studies, Compton has argued, but according to ACL CEO Chris Keevill, the organization has no remit to engage with public opinion to decide on launch of products such as iGaming.

Rather, it’s within the province’s rights and mandate to seek such consultation, and for the ACL to just implement the product at a later date. However, the lottery has done its due diligence, contacting organizations specializing in carrying out the groundwork necessary for the launch of online gaming.

According to the findings of the studies, there was no evidence that introducing online gambling such as casino would have a negative impact on vulnerable gamblers or problem gamblers in P.E.I., citing examples from other provinces where such products were already available.

Another Consultation May Be Coming

Yet, without enough confidence by skeptics, an online gambling launch may be delayed a little further. Compton has said that more studies will be carried out on top of anything done so far by the ALC to appease those who have raised concerns about the well-being of people who spend more time at home and may be tempted to engage with online gambling beyond reasonable.

Compton partly shared this opinion, arguing that there has been an increased online gambling activity among P.E.I residents who have sought out to spend more online on gambling over the past months, due to the pandemic. Yet, people’s spending is not related to the legal status of the activity.

Canadians spent $14 billion betting on sports offshore compared to just $500 million legally. The casino numbers are not exactly known, but as Compton says, it’s important that everyone spends their money in a regulated and safe manner.

P.E.I can regulate and protect players where offshore websites have no interest to ensure consumer well-being, unlike the state where residents live. The Green Party, though, has been one of the measure’s most vociferous critics, calling it “reckless” and condemning the lack of public consultation in the state.

In an interview with CBC Canada, Compton said that she wasn’t sure when an online casino may launch, but hopes are that this would happen within the first half of the year, and as soon as any outstanding issues are worked out by the P.E.I. Lotteries Commission and ALC.

P.E.I is keen to catch up on a number of other provinces where online gaming has become a reality, including Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and British Columbia. Meanwhile, Canada is trying to legalize single-event sports betting, as it sees the activity as an important driver of economic windfall.

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