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Ontario ponders virtual choices

Canada’s most populous province is closely watching what is happening in British Columbia as it ponders whether to launch an online casino.

Friday 30th July 2010

In Canada, the province of Ontario is considering whether to follow British Columbia into the virtual world by launching an online casino that could help it to ease its estimated annual budget deficit of $19 billion. According to a report from The Canadian Press news service, the Liberal government for Canada’s most populous province needs new revenue streams in order to rebalance its books and fund ‘expensive promises’ ahead of the 2011 elections. “If I was a wagering person, I would certainly bet that they would, in fact, go into Internet gambling,” said Jeff Derevensky, Director for the International Centre For Youth Gambling Problems And High Risk Behaviours at Montreal’s McGill University. “This is not a new phenomenon. What you're seeing around the world as the economic situation has deteriorated is more and more governments are actually going for gambling expansion.” British Columbia opened North America's first government-run online casino two weeks ago at with a similar offering from the eastern province of Quebec expected to premiere in the autumn followed by a site from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, which manages lottery games in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland And Labrador. Since taking up his post in February, Paul Godfrey, Chairman for the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation, has openly reflected on jumping into online gambling as a way of boosting revenues while Premier Dalton McGuinty has refused to rule out such a move. “I think what the Premier said is that Internet gaming is a reality that the government of Ontario can't ignore for long,” said Darcy McNeill, a spokesperson for McGuinty. “But, the issue is whether or not we should be involved in it and that's something the government is exploring.” For its part, the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation recently revealed that it had conducted research that constituted ‘advice to government’ but declined to go further. “In a general sense, like all lottery and gaming jurisdictions in Canada, we are closely watching what is happening in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada for that matter,” said Rui Brum, spokesperson for the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation.

Source: OnlineCasinoNews

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