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New Brunswick still considering internet gambling option

The sudden moves by Canadian provincial governments to get into the online gambling business appeared to have passed the Maritime provinces of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by late last year as a succession of political figures spoke out against following the example of British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.

The territories are all represented in the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, which presented the idea for consideration.

It now appears that not all of the territories have dismissed the idea outright. The Daily Gleaner newspaper reports that the New Brunswick government is still considering the project and is watching developments in other provinces with interest. In terms of the ALC charter, one or more territories can opt for a particular venture, even if others do not participate.

Consequently, the ALC is to present its research findings on the feasibility of an online gambling enterprise operated by itself to the New Brunswick government.

"What has happened over the years because there has been very much a growth, a very large amount of growth in online gaming, all governments across Canada have looked at it," said Marc Belliveau, communications director for the Department of Finance and the province's Lotteries and Gaming Corp.

"The fact that Quebec has done it is interesting to us ... We'll watch with interest.

"We started six months ago when we said to Atlantic Lotto 'Can you look at what this would entail if we ever decided to go that route?' " Belliveau said. "We are one of four partners in the Atlantic Lottery Corp., and what we have told them is 'Continue to feed us information on this subject matter.' "

He added: "Currently as a government, we are very far from considering options because there are no options before us and it is just part of the due diligence that we do to see what the industry standards are, what is happening, what it would entail if we ever decided to go down that route."

The Daily Gleaner reports that online gaming has grown dramatically in Canada in recent years, and that research commissioned by the Canadian lottery industry estimates that more than $74 million is spent each year in Atlantic Canada on illegal Internet gambling - that's not far short of the $80 million wagered online by Quebecoise.

Loto Quebec predicts that by 2012, revenues generated by its new online offerings will reach about $50 million annually.

Commenting on the New Brunswick interest, Atlantic Lottery Corporation spokesperson Sarah McBeath said: "Atlantic Lottery had been working with Loto-Quebec and British Columbia Lottery Corp. on a common offering for online casino products. However, we informed these lotteries in October 2010 that we did not have the necessary approvals to move forward at this time.

"As a publicly-owned lottery, we are looking at opportunities to keep the more than $74 million currently being spent on illegal, off-shore gaming sites within Atlantic Canada for essential public services."

Late last year InfoPowa reported that the province of Saskatchewan was also investigating the pros and cons of an internet gambling enterprise. At that time the Star Phoenix newspaper revealed that investigations were continuing, and that the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, a First Nation body, was also carrying out enquiries.

Source: InfoPowa News

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