Canadian lotteries call for crackdown on illegal operators

Updated August 6

A coalition of five provincial Canadian lotteries are urging the federal government to take action against black-market online gambling operators.

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC), the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MBLL), Loto-Quebec, and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) have jointly called for the government to take action on those operating illegally in their respective jurisdictions.

The lotteries, collectively known as the Provincial Lotteries Corporation, have warned that offshore gambling operators are advertising nationwide, luring online gamblers into unsafe and unregulated play and blurring the lines between legal and illegal gaming. They add that these unregulated operators are also saturating the market with advertising for their online casinos and sportsbooks at peak times such as major sporting events, particularly by advertising mirror “free-to-play” sites.

“Studies show that the majority of players do not know whether an online site is legal or not in their province,” said ALC President and CEO Patrick Daigle. “These are significant sums that could be used in our region to finance public services, but which, instead of helping our communities, only benefit illegal operators.”

The lotteries are launching a campaign to warn and educate players about the unregulated market as well as to reinforce regulations on platforms and media companies that give illegal operators a platform to advertise. The group is seeking government intervention to enforce the law on those who are infringing on the provincial lotteries, which often hold a monopoly in their jurisdiction as commercial gambling is illegal in Canada unless controlled by a provincial government.

“Canada is favourable to [illegal operators],” added Kandice Machado, President and CEO of AGLC. “They use misleading advertising to dominate the market, providing countless opportunities for Canadians to engage, often unknowingly, in illegal betting.”

Steve Lautischer, AGLC executive vice-president of business operations, estimates that somewhere between $400 and $500 million is spent annually with unregulated iGaming offers by Albertans, he told CBC.

MBLL President and CEO Manny Atwal emphasized that the provincial lottery corporations donate their profits to their provinces, which help to fund programs and services such as healthcare, education and community outreach. “Illegal gambling sites advertise to Canadian players, but often operate outside of Canada, taking their profits with them.”

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