The Calgary Sun
Thu, February 8, 2007
By TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA
The city’s top Catholic and fellow-social activists are furious over a possible provincial cash grab through online gambling.
Bishop Fred Henry calls media reports the Alberta government planned to collect revenue through Internet betting as “an intemperate, ill-advised, immoral decision.
“It should be a short study,” Henry said yesterday of a government survey to gauge opinions about Internet gambling.
However, an Alberta Gaming Commission spokeswoman says the province is not moving forward on Internet gaming right now, simply taking the pulse of Albertans on Internet gambling through a survey.
Marilyn Carlyle-Helms, responding to reports the province was mulling jumping into the online betting game, said the commission’s telephone and online survey with 800 Albertans hopes to find out if they gamble online and what games they play.
She said the province has been monitoring this issue for more than five years because Internet gambling is illegal in Alberta unless the province is involved.
Henry said the premise of the survey is still a scary one.
“The government is totally ignoring the social bottom line and simply looking at the finances and saying, there’s money to be made here,” said Henry, adding online gambling especially hooks young Albertans because they are the most Internet savvy.
Social activist Doug Rogan echoed Henry’s sentiment, adding the rising addiction among teens is reason enough to lobby — or force further debate — against such a site.
A recent report pegged gambling in the province this fiscal year will bring in $1.4 billion to government coffers.