Looks like we finally have legal online casino gambling in North America, you just have to go to the northern part of North America to get it. British Columbia is looking at getting its piece of the close to $100 million that is being gambled on off shore websites by its residents. It is now the first official North American authority to offer legal online casino gambling.
Thursday, B.C. residents can go to PlayNow.com and play games like blackjack, craps and roulette as well as bingo, sports betting and lottery. For now there is no online poker but it is expected to make its debut later this year. The PlayNow website is operated by the B.C. Lottery Corp.
Rich Coleman, the housing and social development minister told CTV News that:
“We could stay on the sidelines, pretend the situation doesn’t exist and watch revenues slip, but more importantly, ignore what should be better for our citizens in our province or we could provide (an) online gaming option like others that is accountable to British Columbians, that is secure, that protects their information and employs the highest levels of integrity and security of any system in the world.”
Those in favor seem to echo what is being said in most U.S. states that are facing financial issues and are looking for ways to get into the online gambling industry as well, those that gamble will be on a safe secure site and the revenue generates will stay in British Columbia to benefit the residents there.
Of course there are also detractors. Some, like Shane Simpson, the New Democrat housing and social development critic, who says he doesn’t oppose the actual online gambling part or the revenue generated from it but fears that there aren’t enough programs available to help those that may need it. He points out that during the last budget while raising the weekly limit that can be played at PlayNow.com substantially; the province also cut the budget for problem gambling programs.
Others claim that online gambling targets the youth that are susceptible to becoming addicted as well as the Vancouver chapter of Gamblers Anonymous calling online gambling a, “very addictive and insidious thing.”
The PlayNow site claims 140,000 registered and you have to be 19 or older to sign up. Research shows that $160 million is wagered online from Canada each year and according to studies done by PlayNow, 11% of B.C. residents have wagered real money online.
As of this writing the PlayNow.com site is down saying, “We are experiencing technical difficulties and will have the matter corrected shortly.” Seems like demand is not going to be a problem.