Province trying to close online gambling loophole

The provincial government in Ontario is planning to make changes that would close loopholes that have let indirect advertising of Internet gambling take place in the province despite the fact that Internet gambling and advertising of internet gambling is illegal there.

Web sites have gotten around the law in the past by advertising sites where people can play for free using play money to learn the game. However, once a player goes to the free site, they can easily be directed to the site where they can play for money.

Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips plans to introduce an omnibus consumer protection bill Thursday with a section that will instate a blanket ban on both direct and indirect advertising of Internet gambling.

The government is taking the step to curb Internet gambling because they believe it is highly addictive and too accessible to underage players. However, an argument can be made that they are also seeking to curb the amount of money they're losing from legal gambling at the casinos and race tracks to Internet gambling sites.

Revenues for the government-owned Ontario Lotteries and Gambing Corp., which operates the province's casinos, were down $335 million the over the past three years. Plus the business is expected to drop another $210 million this year.

Internet gambling is a large factor in the steady decline as well as border-crossing problems, the high value of the Canadian dollar, and growing competition in the United States.

Instead of trying to license and regulate online gambling sites to gain revenue from them as well, the Ontario government has already decided against getting involved in the Internet gambling business, leaving them with the only option of trying to fight it. The first step for them is to cut off the advertising, and Phillips also wrote a letter to federal Justice Minister Vic Toews in Ottawa to gain support from the national government against Internet gambling.

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