Peter Nowak – Thursday, October 19, 2006
Ontario is looking to quash Internet gambling by introducing a bill today that will ban such Web sites from advertising, a move legal experts say oversteps the province’s authority.
Gerry Phillips, Minister of Government Services, will table a bill of amendments to Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act, including a section aimed at banning media organizations from running ads by gambling Web sites.
The primary driver behind the legislation is the dramatic rise in Internet gambling addiction among teenagers, according to ministry spokesman Paul de Zara. A recent survey by the Responsible Gambling Council found that addiction among people aged 18 to 24 rose 400% between 2001 and 2005.
“The addiction rates for children are pretty startling,” Mr. de Zara said.
The legislation is only targeting illegal sites — namely those that take money bets — and will exclude “for-fun” sites. Mr. de Zara said all Web sites that take money bets from Canadians are illegal under the Criminal Code because the provinces have exclusive authority over all forms of gambling.
“You can’t advertise something that is illegal,” he said. “We don’t let drug dealers advertise crack houses.”