British Columbia Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) John Horgan is running for the premiership of the Canadian province, and he’s telling the media that, if elected, he’ll cancel B.C.’s newly regulated online gambling system, launched last year.

Canada, particularly British Columbia, is far ahead of the United States in regulating online gambling. Canada’s PlayNow online lottery and gaming network has had its problems, but as regulated gaming systems go, it’s also considered an industry model. Fellow Canadian province Quebec recently launched a similar system.

Too easily abused?
But not all politicians are in favor of the regulated gambling in Canada. So, New Democratic Party (NDP) party member John Horgan is running on a vow to eliminate it if he’s elected to the province’s top spot.

Horgan’s complaint is that the B.C Lottery is “vulnerable to abuse,” per Ian Austin at the Province.

“Horgan, one of five candidates for the party leadership, said the B.C. Lottery Corporation’s online gaming is particularly vulnerable to money laundering, fraud, and related crimes,” Austin continues.

“British Columbia needs to focus on operating our current gaming activities in compliance with the law, and restoring trust with local communities, charities and non-profit organizations who have been left behind in the massive Liberal gaming expansion of the last 10 years,” Horgan told the Province.

“I will also immediately restore $30 million of funding to B.C.’s charities and non-profits,” he added.

“The Wild West”
Horgan also compares the online gambling industry, and British Columbia’s PlayNow.com in particular, to the “Wild West,” an analogy suggesting lawlessness and rampant crime, per VancouverNews1130’s Dan Burritt.

“We expect that it’s going to make about $30 million this year,” objects Rich Coleman, B.C.’s minister responsible for gaming, in the article. “$30 million that I don’t know where Mr. Horgan would [get] to help pay for education and health care and other things.”

Horgan has also pledged to restore “$30 million to charities and non-profits,” per Burritt’s article.

The affiliate angle
It’s been interesting to watch Canada’s evolution from unregulated to regulated online gambling, and not just for the political drama.

In fact, observing how politicians interact with those regulations can shed light on how the online gambling regulatory process may work in other countries. It’s certainly nothing new for ambitious politicians to grandstand on the Internet gambling issues — it’s long been a default position for conservative U.S. politicians seeking an easy soundbite.

So, in Canada, where online gambling is more sophisticated — and taxed — it’s fascinating to watch lawmakers continue to rail against a proven economic boon in order to grab some easy headlines. But Horgan and those who think like him aren’t likely to overturn regulated online gambling, even in an area where it hasn’t performed as well as expected.


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