Will Quebec Online Gambling IP Block ever get Ruling in Court?

Canada still awaits ruling on Quebec online casino IP block.

Still awaiting ruling on Quebec Online Casino IP block lawTwo very long years ago, on the chilly morning of May 17, 2016, the National Assembly of Quebec gathered in their spacious quarters. The day’s agenda was filled with topics, spanning variable degrees of import. One such topic was a measure known as Bill 74; a budget bill containing measures previously discussed in March of 2015. Among them, a clever codicil that would change Quebec online gambling forever.

Bill 74 would give the province power to enforce an IP block against international websites that provide internet gambling services; an unprecedented power never before wielded by any group so low on the hierarchy of national government. Yet on that cool, spring morning, the Assembly voted in favor of that bill, assigning its assent for the following day, May 18, 2016.

Quebec Online Casino IP Block Still up for Debate

Being more than two years ago, you’d think the measure would have went into effect by now. But it hasn’t. And chance are, it never will, thanks to the response of a few select government organizations that are, in fact, part of the upper echelon system of government.

The moment the measure ascended, freedom of internet activists took to the proverbial podium. Their swift and abundantly audible voices cried foul. Their argument was simple—that Bill 74 was a direct violation of the Telecommunications Act (and the Constitution, in general).

The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) heard their plea, and filed an injunction, preventing Quebec from enforcing the IP block until a court ruling could decide its legitimacy.

That ruling was scheduled for March 2018, yet to this date, no decision has been made.

What if Quebec Online Gambling IP Block is Approved?

It’s incredibly doubtful that the online gambling IP blockade will get the nod from the provincial court. The Telecommunications Act grants the power of censorship to the federal government, and nothing less. Yea or nay, it’s likely to make its way to the Supreme Court before an official ruling is accepted.

Assuming it were to be approved, however, it would create a whole new iGaming regime. Canada, which has long been one of the least restrictive iGaming nations the world over, would suddenly become one of the strictest—if not the strictest—on the planet.

As things stand now, offshore operators are not violating any laws by accepting Canadian players; so long as they have no physical presence (offices, servers, etc.) in Canada. Players, as well, are breaking no laws by accessing these websites, making deposits, placing wagers and processing withdraws.

Bill 74 would change all that, creating a monopoly on Quebec’s the online casino, poker, bingo, lottery and sports betting market.. As the laws are written, only the provincial government can regulate gambling, and only Loto-Quebec can operate an online gambling site. There’s no competition allowed. Espacejeux.com would become the only legal Quebec online gambling operation.

Why it Won’t (Shouldn’t) Happen

Quebec made its intentions very clear when passing Bill 74. The purpose was financial gain; to increase revenue from Espacejeux by eliminating the competition of offshore gaming sites. They actually discussed how much more money they would make if these pesky offshore sites weren’t around.

Following the injunction, Quebec changed its tune, stating it was to protect the people from unregulated gambling. Breaching constitutional rights to create a monopoly for financial gain—that’s simply not going to fly.

Furthermore, restricting the freedom of the people isn’t something a traditionally free country like Canada would ever consider. It’s a constitutional right, and one the people will not accept losing. Sure, eliminating competition for provincial gambling revenue may not seem like a big deal, but if one freedom is stripped away, what comes next?

If Quebec is given the right to restrict a single internet freedom, that ruling will become the precedent for taking away other rights. It will spread from one province to the next. Censorship of what we can and cannot view on the internet will inevitably lead to loss of more and more freedoms, and an uncertain future where the government has more power that it was ever meant to wield.

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