The maritime province of Prince Edward Island in Canada is forging a project to open an online casino, circumnavigating some due process that has, in turn, elicited criticism. Via the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, the province plans to operate online casinos, but no public consultation on the matter has been launched, creating a fraught relationship between proponents and opponents.
Darlene Compton, who serves as P.E.I.’s finance minister and president of the Lotteries Commission of the province, argued that the ALC was placed in place to ensure that gambling is conducted as mandated by law by public consultation and legalization.
Compton argued that the ALC can only launch online gambling after it has carried out all the required studies, but the organization has no authority to communicate with public opinion to decide on the launch of products such as iGaming, according to ACL CEO Chris Keevill.
Rather, it is within the rights and mandate of the province to seek such consultation and, at a later date, for the ACL to simply implement the product. The lottery, however, has done its due diligence, contacting organizations that specialize in carrying out the groundwork needed for online gaming to be launched.
There was no evidence that the implementation of online gambling, such as casino, would have a negative impact on vulnerable gamblers or problem gamblers in P.E.I., according to the results of the studies, citing examples from other provinces where such products were already available.
Yet, without sufficient confidence from skeptics, the introduction of online gambling could be delayed a little longer. Compton said that further research will be conducted on top of what the ALC has done so far to appease those who have raised concerns about the well-being of individuals who spend more time at home and might be tempted to participate in more than reasonable online gambling.
Compton shared this opinion in part, claiming that, due to the pandemic, there has been an increased online gambling activity among P.E.I residents who have tried to spend more online on gambling in recent months. Yet, the spending of persons is not related to the legal status of the activity.
Canadians invested $14 billion legally on offshore sports betting, compared to just $500 million. Casino statistics are not exactly known, but it is vital that everyone spends their money in a regulated and safe way, as Compton says.
Unlike the state where residents live, P.E.I will regulate and protect players where offshore websites have little interest in guaranteeing customer well-being. However, the Green Party has been one of the most vociferous critics of the measure, calling it “reckless” and condemning the state’s lack of public consultation.
Compton said in an interview with CBC Canada that she was not sure when an online casino would be launched, but hopes that this will occur within the first half of the year and the P.E.I. Lotteries Commission and ALC will sort out any outstanding issues as soon as any outstanding issues are resolved.
P.E.I is ready to catch up with a variety of other provinces, including Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, and British Columbia, where online gaming has become a reality. In the meantime, Canada is seeking to legalize sports betting for single events, as it sees the activity as a potential driver of economic windfall.