These warranties have been put in place for the particular purpose of ensuring, among other things, that users are neither underage nor are they engaging in gaming or lottery activities while present in a foreign jurisdiction that does not permit online gaming. In addition to these warranties, regulation of online gambling will also need to ensure that the OLG project is adequately monitored so as to protect it from money laundering, and that tools limiting play are provided for Ontarians who struggle with gambling.
Whether such warranties will suffice, however, is not easy to determine. Further to the recent string of enforcement measures taken by the United States government against online gaming websites, the recent takedown of Bodog.com has also led to the indictment of four Canadians who operate the site that was allegedly engaging users in the state of Maryland. Notwithstanding Bodog’s defence that no US money was involved in any of the Bodog websites, US Homeland Security Investigations have seized the Bodog websites and issued indictments against the Canadian owners and operators of the websites (3). This marks a significant development in the US’s interest and jurisdiction related to online gaming, as Homeland Security Investigations have arguably over-stepped their jurisdiction in seizing the domain names simply by virtue of the fact that the “.com” domain registry is managed by an American corporation, Verisign, when the domain itself was registered and operated by a Canadian company.
Though OLG will undoubtedly take these concerns, and Ontario’s relations with the United States, into consideration in their decision to move forward, the fact remains that the issue of online gaming is a multi- jurisdictional issue with many legal and political considerations at stake. Even within a proper legal framework, and appropriate and sufficient safeguards in place, the expansion of government- supported online gaming websites in Canada will surely be at the forefront of legal issues related to gaming, both in Canada and across North America.
Written by Javad Heydary is managing director of Heydary Hamilton PC. He regularly advises clients on online gaming issues and complex regulatory and litigation matters.