Online casinos sanctioned by Nova Scotia may be launched this spring.
The Atlantic Lottery Corporation unveiled a website specifically for New Brunswick last summer, subject to sign-off from the respective governments, with plans to extend to the other Atlantic provinces.
The Nova Scotia sign-off was announced in the form of a council order on Friday.
The costs incurred for the creation of “online casino-style games” will be shared by the provinces that provide the service, according to a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Gaming Company.
Jillian Moore said in an email that “Currently, it is estimated that Nova Scotia’s cost will be $3.1 million.”
The decision has raised anti-gambling advocates’ eyebrows since the New Brunswick site allows people to bet up to $500 on a single blackjack hand or up to $100 on a single pull of a virtual slot machine. Advocates say they’re worried that individuals playing from their homes might cause problems.
The move is important to try to counteract the increasing popularity of people gambling on websites without links to the Atlantic provinces, officials with ALC said. Although they have estimated that Atlantic Canada leaves as much as $100 million via offshore websites, ALC officials have not said how they measured that amount.
Government officials from Nova Scotia said they believe that the system pursued by the ALC can be done safely and that the province has resources to help people with gambling issues.
Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia, a non-profit arm’s length government organization, was dissolved by the provincial government last year without any public notice.
The funding previously dedicated to Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia is being rolled into the overall mental health and addiction budget, a government spokesperson said.