It’s time to regulate online gaming into Ontario model

The Ottawa Citizen 
Saturday, March 11, 2006 
Byline: W. P. Rutsey

Re: Hypocrisy and gambling, March 3.

The Citizen editorial has mixed the rather straightforward issues of consumer protection and respect for the law with the more complex issues of morality and the legal and regulatory framework within which gaming is conducted.I see nothing problematic about a private members’ bill that seeks to protect consumers (including adolescents) from an illegal activity, and to protect legitimate businesses from illegal competition. The premise of Liberal MPP Jeff Leal’s bill is not that “gambling is bad and shouldn’t be promoted.” It is that illegal activities should not be advertised — and in Canada today anyone (other than a provincial government) promoting or offering gaming over the internet is contravening the Criminal Code.

Hopefully, Mr. Leal’s bill will be the first step of Canadian government regulators and policy makers to establish a framework where the regulation of Internet gaming can occur. The inaction of law enforcement officials to enforce current laws has lead to a situation which is negatively impacting the entire gaming industry.

International Internet gaming is forecast to reach $21.3 billion by 2010 — more than 40 per cent from North America. That’s $9 billion that may be just disappearing into the ether, the Canadian share estimated as between $500 million and $1.1 billion annually.

I also find the reference to “conflicting priorities” confusing. The Ontario government regulates and manages gaming in much the same manner that it regulates the sales and consumption, and partly manages the distribution, of alcoholic beverages. This is the model that most Ontarians want — an entertainment industry responsibly regulated and managed, with the majority of the revenues directed to the public benefit.

The editorial’s oblique reference to morality flies in the face of the facts. More than 75 per cent of adult Canadians participate in legal gaming. Clearly, gaming is a form of entertainment of which the vast majority of Canadians approve.

W. P. Rutsey, CEO 
Canadian Gaming Association