Residents of British Columbia might have a more difficult time accessing international gambling portals online in the future. Whether or not that future will be near or far, however, remains to be seen. Actually, only if the British Columbia Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch (GPEB) gets its way will British Columbians really have to worry about access to these sites in the near-term. And, let’s be honest, those odds don’t look too good as of today.
This news comes after a letter sent out by the GPEB was leaked to the public. This letter was apparently mailed to 19 of the world’s most successful online gambling CEOs. In very clear and strong language, the GPEB told these CEOs that by accepting money from clients in British Columbia they were potentially in violation of both the Criminal Code of Canada and the Gaming Control Act. The letter also told all international online gambling operators that the only organization that is allowed to deal with gambling and/or lottery in British Columbia is the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).
But that’s not all. Apparently the authors of this letter needed to include a little threat just to make sure they really got the attention of those international gambling CEOs. The GPEB officials wrote that they were keeping tabs and sharing the names of all the online gambling sites that have taken money from British Columbian players. They said that they would share these names with provincial governments all across Canada. Members of the GPEB also said that they are planning on meeting with European leaders to strengthen Canada’s laws against illegal online gambling.
There have been many critics who have called the GPEB out on this letter. Many legal experts have said that these online gambling sites have not really broken any major international or national laws as of yet. In fact, many legal authorities believe that the international online sites are perfectly legal, so long as they remain on the Internet and never establish themselves physically in Canada.
Some critics speculate that this letter shows GPEB’s desire to have the BCLC remain the “only game in the province,” so to speak. They site the fact that PlayNow.com, which is owned and operated by the BCLC, raked in a whopping $135.5 million Canadian dollars between 2015-2016. This makes BCLC’s hottest new market in online gambling, and perhaps they feel a wee bit threatened by various other sites dismantling their online monopoly.
Indeed, many of the online gambling operators that GPEB is trying to ward off are far more competitive than BCLC’s site. Most of the international sites are far cheaper than PlayNow.com, plus they offer a wider variety of games.
But it isn’t only British Columbia that is trying to fight off the online gambling operators. Other Canadian provinces, like Quebec and Ontario, have also expressed their concerns over online gambling sites. For example, Quebec’s Loto-Quebec put out a report in 2014 that said Canada’s Criminal Code had to have a clearer way of dealing with unauthorized online gambling operators. This report also suggested putting in laws to officially license online gambling sites into Quebec’s official online lottery portal. Both Quebec and Ontario currently have their own online gaming sites.
Although the GPEB’s words are quite tough, they may not have any force to change this situation as it currently stands. The only really effective way to ban international gaming sites in Canadian provinces is for the government to work with Internet providers to IP-block them. This plan was actually proposed by Quebec gambling authorities, but it was officially halted by the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission.
Whatever the online international gambling giants think of GPEB’s letter has yet to be seen. But, if they play their cards right, they may still be able to easily call the GPEB’s bluff and rake in a huge amount of cash from British Columbia.