July 28, 2010 (CAP News Wire) – Weeks after the implementation of what’s been called North America’s first fully legal online gambling system — and the subsequent, near-instant crash of that system — the media in Canada is still hotly debating the topic. And the repercussions of all this could affect online gambling regulation in the U.S.

The story has become one of Canada’s biggest media stories over the past few weeks, with critics of online gambling wasting no time in citing the system’s problems as a reason why legal online gambling doesn’t work.

No doubt, the situation in British Columbia — home of the new online gambling platform — looks bad. “PlayNow.com suffered 134 “data crossovers” that meant players could see other players’ personal financial data online — and and [sic] even make bets with their money,” writes that province’s The Tyee newspaper.

Indeed, the way that PlayNow handled the problems are attracting widespread criticism. “When the lottery corporation’s new online casino did a virtual face-plant, they should have immediately told the public the truth: That the site was pulled off the Net because of a serious security breach. Instead, they spun a story that the site “crashed” because servers were overwhelmed by so many excited gamblers,” states the Province.com.

“The B.C. Lottery Corporation’s PlayNow.com website will not be reactivated until an independent review is complete and the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner is satisfied privacy will be protected on the online gaming website, the commissioner announced today,” relates the Vancouver Sun. “The BCLC disabled the site last week after a security breach allowed players to gamble with other peoples’ money, and exposed the sensitive personal information of 12 customers.”

It’s unfortunate that this effort to regulate online gambling in North America has taken such a bad turn — and it may be likely to influence what happens regarding online gambling legalization in the United States, where lawmakers tend to look at trends in other nations when deciding what may or may not work for the U.S. Although it probably has nothing to do with the fact that Barney Frank’s bill to regulate online gambling has suffered a postponed markup date.

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