It seems the domino effect is going strong in North America as far as regulating online gambling is concerned. British Columbia and Quebec already allow online gambling and Ontario will soon follow. Now it seems Alberta is at least looking to follow in the same path.
Online gambling is legal in Canada but operating a site within its borders is not. Studies show that up to $1 billion dollars are being wagered online by Canadians and now the cash strapped provincial governments want in. They are justifying the turnaround in their opinion by saying it can aid charities, increase revenues (thus keeping taxes in check) and will be used to help fight gambling addictions by having problem gambling help posted on the sites.
Gambling addiction is one of the biggest reasons those opposed of legalizing online gambling in the Provinces give. According to the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre 1 in 5 internet gamblers have a problem and that is almost 5 times higher than in land base casinos.
According to Dr. Garry Smith, a gambling researcher with the University of Alberta however the choice may have already been made. He also claims that close to 1,000 Alberta residents bet online which is about double the national average.
“Alberta’s government will also have no choice but to offer online gaming because they don’t want to see ‘any money leaving the province’ to Quebec and B.C.”
No decision has been made by Alberta as of yet however. Christine Wronko, a spokeswoman with the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission says, “We are monitoring what other jurisdictions are doing, as well as doing a bit of research into online gaming, but a decision will have to come from government.”
This sentiment is echoed by Alberta’s Deputy Premier, Doug Horner, who has said there are both pros and cons to be considered and the final decision is still a ways off. How far “aways” is is yet to be determined as Alberta will surely see more and more of its residents money leaving and finding its way into the government coffers of B.C., Quebec and Ontario.