A group of Richmond gambling seniors have been told to take their games to a private residence, or face the penalty. No more 10-cent Texas Hold’em nights. No more $1 cribbage or bridge games. Gambling, no matter how cheap, is illegal in British Columbia, Canada, and they must abide by the law.
The message seems a bit harsh for a 40-strong group ranging in age from 75 to 95. These are senior members of society – our parents, grandparents, in some cases, great-grandparents. At one time, their lives were just as busy as today’s young and middle-age, working-class citizens, juggling employment and families.
These seniors are retired. Their families are busy. Grandchildren are in school. Truth be told, they don’t have a great deal of entertainment to look forward to. That was the argument of many members of the Richmond gambling group; particularly the Texas Hold’em players who’ve gathered three days a week at Minoru Place Senior Centre for the last decade.
Game-Loving Seniors outside Minoru Place, photo Alan Campbell/Richmond News
70 year old Marilyn Berger, who joined the group five years ago, was livid when the centre’s management shut down their games.
“This group has been going in there for about 10 years, three times a week on a Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, betting 10 flippin’ cents a chip!” Berger seethed.
She said the games last about three hours, and that it only cost her, on average, “$2 for a wonderful afternoon of fun and friendship. They’ve known fine well for years what we and all these other groups of seniors do and nobody ever said anything.”
Berger believes the legality issue arose from a “troublemaking” player who stormed off to the front desk during a game a few months back. That’s when she says the front desk managers started taking notice, despite the fact that they knew, and “didn’t care the ten years before then.”
Not long after, Berger says the group was handed a letter two months ago informing them their activities were illegal. They could continue playing, but could no longer do so for money.
Berger explained just how close the group is, and how important their camaraderie has become, holding “Christmas parties and a summer barbecue” each year. While they can still do these things, Berger asked the Richmond News, “What’s the point of playing poker when there’s no money involved?”
81 year old Charles McLaughlin, another member of the Richmond gambling groups’ regular Texas Hold’em games, agreed. He said their cheap gaming afternoons do way more for the members than move pocket change around.
“People come here to get out of the house,” he said. “By stopping this, they have virtually sent people back to their homes to hibernate.”
Harry Walters, 88, isn’t just a fan of the group’s poker games. He’s also a retired Vancouver police officer and former gaming inspector for BC. After looking into Richmond gambling laws, he claims there’s nothing illegal about their activities.
“The only time it becomes illegal is when the house, for example, makes some money out of the game,” said Walters.
While that’s true, in part, there’s also the issue of conducting the games in a public forum, such as a senior citizens centre. They could easily take their games to a private residence – as some already have – but the group says it’s unquestionably less convenient, and not nearly as much fun.
Kathleen Holmes, President of Minoru Place, said they’re looking into a way to circumvent legal issues. Instead of playing for money directly, they might be able to play for points, with a monetary prize going to the winner at the end.
“We’re looking into that right now,” she said.
Ted Townsend, a spokesman for the City of Richmond, said they’re not trying to stop the senior groups from having fun, “but it can’t be for money.” He supports the center offering a range of life-enhancing activities for seniors, but at the same time, added, “we have a responsibility to abide by the law.”
For now, the Richmond gambling group is forced to take their gaming elsewhere.
Ontario isn’t what you would call the most modernized gambling-centric community; certainly not when it comes to online casino gaming. That title belongs to British Columbia, where the BCLC launched Canada’s first home-regulated, internet-based gambling website, Playnow.com, in 2004. Quebec came next in 2010, with Ontario waiting until January 2015 to officially launch PlayOLG.com.
While we can’t say Ontario was on top of the game, we can commend provincial leaders for their cautious nature. Observing the efficacy of online gambling regulation in other regions, and developing models that mimic the good, while avoiding the bad, is worth a little praise.
The region’s historic attitude may soon flip-flop though, with reports that single-game sports betting could actually become a reality in Ontario; something no Canadian province offers at this time due to existing laws. For the moment, disappointing parlays are the only legal form of sports betting across the nation.
According to Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, if and when Canada does legalize single-game sports betting, his forward-thinking company is already prepared to roll out the software required to deliver in-house and online sports betting wagers on single events.
Lawson’s company has been in talks with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) recently. Following a recent partnership, both are showing interest in the potential for Woodbine to present online horse race betting via the OLG’s online gambling website.
Ontario Online Horse Race Betting
According to reports, Lawson is ‘cautiously optimistic‘ about integrating horse race betting on PlayOLG. He believes bringing the pari-mutuel betting market to online punters would be a great boost for the sport, bringing in more revenue and reinvigorating the excitement that once revolved around horse racing.
He also noted that, should the partnership be successful, he has high hopes for the future of single-game sports betting in Ontario. Lawson intends to continue the push for iGaming expansion via legislation to remove restrictions on sports betting.
Single-Game Sports Betting Platform Ready
The bulk of that argument could come from the fact that Woodbine Entertainment already has the necessary technology developed to integrate single-game sports betting, via its HPI Betting System.
Lawson, who also happens to be the Chairman of the Canadian Football League, said it would be “a real game-changer” if provided the opportunity. “You don’t have to just project it, you can see the impact in other countries in the world,” expressed Lawson in a recent interview with the Toronto Sun.
“We could run single-game sports betting off the backbone of that,” he said. “Our tote systems, our whole information technology systems are sophisticated enough to do that.
“We’re hoping and thinking that there is a role for single-game sports betting and the importance to horse racing is we be part of it rather than be cannibalized,” he said.
The CEO added that Woodbine has “been engaged in a number of conversations,” with OLG, and has been proactive in delivering the message that its software is fully capable of providing a single-game sports betting platform.
“We’d like racing to even be a part of a pro-line type bet today where the parlay betting is allowed. Is it imminent?” he questioned. To that, he could only say, “I’m not sure.”
Woodbine – and the Canadian horse racing industry as a whole – has struggled in recent years. Attendance is down, revenue is down, and that means less yield for tracks and provincial governments alike.
“I really think it’s the type of thing we need to do to create revenue for horse racing and there is a real push on to integrate our gaming with what the gaming authority is doing,” said Lawson.
As tempting as a trip to Las Vegas or Atlantic City may seem for Canadians – especially after a long, cold winter – there’s one very god reason why Canada casinos are the best place to stay and play. Taxes!
In Canada, we aren’t subject to taxes on gambling winnings. In fact, the majority of first world countries consider winnings from gambling to be a windfall; categorized in the same manner as a monetary gift. Players keep every bit of their winnings, with no taxation applied.
The United States doesn’t see it that way. While the US government actually has one of the lowest state and federal tax rates in the world in terms of traditional income sources, taxes on gambling winnings are outrageous. Even if you’re a nonresident, you may be forced to give up nearly a third of your winnings to the nation’s prehensile government.
Taxes on Gambling Winnings from US Casinos
Not all gambling winnings are taxable. It depends on how much you win. A Canadian who walks away a few hundred dollars richer isn’t going to be subject to US tax withholding laws.
If you strike a slot machine or bingo jackpot of $1,200 or more, or get lucky at Keno to the tune of $1,500+, the situation changes drastically. Likewise, if you win a state or national lottery, wagering pool, or pari-mutuel pool (horses, dogs or jai alai) worth $5,000 or more, or at least 300 times the total stake, the US will want its cut.
When such winnings occur on US soil, Canadians can expect to fill out some forms when they visit the cashier. In addition, they’ll only be handed 70% of the overall winnings. The rest is withheld by the gambling facility to cover the mandated taxes on gambling winnings.
Keep Your Receipts! Form 1042-S
During the withholding process, the casino, racetrack or lottery facility will provide the player with Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s Us Source Income Subject to Withholding.
Make sure to keep any receipts, tickets or other documents that can prove how much money you lost while gambling in the US. If a Canadian is able to prove their losses, that amount can be deducted from any withheld taxes on gambling winnings.
Stick With Canada Casinos
If you’d rather avoid all this hassle, the easiest way to do it is to simply refrain from gambling in the US. Canada casinos offer the same variety of gambling amusements, and never collect taxes on gambling winnings.
If it’s the opulence of Las Vegas you seek, we have some pretty fancy casinos right here. The Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, Ontario is quite lovely, as is Quebec’s Casino de Montreal.
It’s also worth noting that Las Vegas – despite being the most famous gambling mecca in the world – has the absolute worst odds on slot machines. The rest of the world regulates that slots must have an RTP (return to player) averaging 87.5% (standard range of 85% to 92%. In Nevada, state regulators allow Las Vegas casinos to set deplorably low RTP’s of just 75%.
If Canada casinos and race tracks didn’t look very appealing to you before, hopefully the US government’s taxes on gambling winnings and lamentable slots payouts in Vegas will change your mind.
Online betting is a nothing new. Canadians have been doing it for the last two decades. Sports bets are by far the most popular, followed by things like politics and reality TV. But there are some very crazy online betting lines you probably never knew existed.
It seems every year, bookmakers come up with more and more wacky things to wager on. Now here we are in 2017 and there are some truly insane betting lines out there!
We’re Not Alone…
At some online betting sites, including the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power (who else?), you can actually place a bet on whether alien life will be discovered. In fact, it’s not a matter of ‘if‘, but rather ‘when‘.
Punters can wager on the discovery of aliens occurring in 2017, 2018, 2019, or “2020 or later”. To win this bet, Paddy Power specifies that the bet will be:
“Settled on the sitting President of the USA making a statement confirming without doubt the existence of alternative, intelligent life beings from another planet.”
Bingo – How ‘Ferret’ Is!
Ferret Bingo – yes, it actually exists – is another one of the craziest online betting lines now available. Ferret Bingo is an English lottery/sport that involves placing ferrets into a cage with 7 numbered drain pipes as exit routes. Whichever exit the first ferret takes determines the winning number.
But is this lottery style game fair? In the past, conductors have been accused of ‘tunnel tampering’. However, it’s become a rather serious sport these days. Rules for the official matches that managed to make it onto bookmaker’s radars are strictly enforced.
On Your Marks, Cheese Set, Go!
If you thought Curling was a strange Olympic sport, how about Cheese Rolling? This racing event is exactly what the name suggests. Contestants roll large rounds of cheese down a hill, and the first across the finish line wins.
Could you imagine such a thing becoming an official sport of the Olympic games? Its strongest supporters can. An application was actually submitted to the International Olympic Committee, but not surprisingly, it was rejected. That doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy the action with some cheesy online betting lines.
Hoist Up The John B Wives!
Got a wife? Got a strong back? Hoist her up and get moving, because it’s time for the World Wife-Carrying Championship! Don’t have a wife? No problem, you can bet on the strong-arms that do at various internet bookmakers.
What started as a comedic way to pass some quality family time has become an international phenomenon. Established in the 1990’s, the WWCC is held in North America annually, while other countries like Australia and Asia hold their own regular wife-carrying competitions.
We’ve all seen the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Superstars slamming each other head-first into the turnbuckles, suplexing them to the mat, and bashing metal chairs across their backs. Unless you’re under the age of 10, you know very well that it’s all fake – choreographed as seamlessly as a Broadway ballet. And that, my friend, is what makes this one of the craziest online betting lines in the world.
How can a bookmaker offer odds on something that is pre-determined? That’s not a contest, it’s a sham. But it’s also a very popular form of entertainment, and it’s become more and more common to find matches posted at online bookmakers.
In order to keep things fair, bookies offer lines that can be (are often are) immediately rescinded or heavily reduced if information regarding the upcoming winner gets leaked.
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Canadian sportsbooks are always finding something interesting to entice their punters with. This week, the sports betting world is turning its attention to Super Bowl LI prop bets, and there’s definitely some strange ones to place odds on as we prepare for the big game this weekend.
On Sunday, February 5, the world will look on as super-star quarterback Tom Brady leads the New England Patriots to into their ninth Super Bowl appearance – the seventh since Brady took the helm in 2000. Undoubtedly the best quarterback in Patriots history, he’s helped earn the team 4 Super Bowl rings, in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2015.
The Atlanta Falcons will have their work cut out for them this weekend. This year marks only their second appearance in a Super Bowl, with no Vince Lombardi Trophy yet adorning the team’s locker room. But the Falcons are on a hot streak as QB Matt Ryan and RB Devonta Freeman led the Falcons in scoring 540 points in the regular season; the 7th highest in NFL history.
2017 Super Bowl Prop Bets
It’s going to be a tough match-up, but most sports bettors aren’t focusing on who will win the game, so much as what will happen from start to finish. Super Bowl LI prop bets are the talk of Canadian sportsbooks, with some obvious – and some rather strange – odds on offer.
One of the most interesting I’ve seen yet is how many times will the word ‘Defalte‘ or ‘Deflategate‘ be used during the game’s live broadcast. Most sportsbooks have the Over/Under on this set at 1-1/2, and that’s a no-brainer in my book. It’s going to be awhile before Brady and the Pats overcome that scandal. I’ll take the Over, please.
Luke Bryan has been scheduled to sing the National Anthem, and there’s a wide range of prop bets available on his performance alone. What will he be wearing? Will he have a hat on? How long will the song last, and will he mess it up? There’s even odds on whether any players will be seen kneeling on the sidelines during his performance.
US President Donald Trump came up in a few Super Bowl LI prop bets, as well. Sports betting enthusiasts can wager on who the new US leader pick to win the game, as well as how many times the word ‘Trump‘ will be said during the game (excluding halftime and commercials). There’s even a prop bet for what will be larger – the number of yards Tom Brady rushes for, or the length of President Trump’s same-day interview with Bill O’Reilly (in televised minutes)?
And of course, there are many 2017 Super Bowl prop bets actually associated with the game, like who will win the coin toss, who will kick first, score first, get the first TD and first field goal, etc. To the surprise of no one, odds are on Tom Brady to win the Super Bowl MVP, with Matt Ryan running a close second.
Super Bowl Prop Bet Promos
For Canadian sportsbook fans in BC and Manitoba, there’s even a special $1,000,000 Super Pool taking place at PlayNow.com. Members can pay $5 to set their picks on a range of 25 Super Bowl prop bets, and if they manage to tick the right box in every single one of them, they’ll be awarded the massive million dollar prize.
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For centuries – ever since man discovered it was possible to train these wild beasts – horse racing has been a favorite pastime worldwide. It’s not just fun for breeders and jockeys, but especially for live and online sports betting enthusiasts, who enjoy the expectant thrill of making some quick cash.
Horse racing isn’t just a big deal in Canada. It’s become an extremely popular form of sports betting all across the globe. According to statistics, it’s most prominent in the countries of Australia, Canada, China, France, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.
What is it that makes horse racing so incredibly popular throughout much of the modern world? There’s no single answer to that question. In fact, there are at least three very good reasons for it.
Speed, Speed and More Speed
Guys love speed. I’m sure a lot of ladies do, too, but anything that moves fast tends to draw the attention from the male population. Cars, planes, trains, horses – we guys loved to play with these things growing up. It only makes sense that we continue to be attracted to fast moving objects as we get older.
But it’s not just the speed of the horses themselves that gamblers enjoy. It’s the speed at which the races take place.
Sports betting on things like football, baseball, or basketball; it takes hours for the matches to conclude. A horse race generally lasts anywhere from 40 to 300 seconds. It’s a lot more exhilarating than spinning the slots reels or a roulette wheel, but doesn’t last so long that we become immune to the thrill.
Odds Increased in Strategic Sports Betting
If you’re betting for fun and the money doesn’t really matter, pick a pony and let it ride. If you’re really out to win, though, horse racing gives us the opportunity to increase our odds by doing a little research.
The breeding background and past performances of racing horses are very well documented. One can go online and find a wealth of information on all the ponies for a particular race, just as easily as they can log onto an online sports betting site to place their wagers.
Strategic betting is much easier in horse racing than it is in most other sports, where a game’s initial probabilities can easily be effected by things like injuries and turnovers.
More Bettors Means More Money
Because of the pari-mutuel engine, the more popular horse racing becomes, the more money bettors stand to win by wagering on it. Betting on a horse race isn’t like betting other sports. You’re not taking specific odds on a team or contestant. The amount you win depends entirely on how much money was wagered on the race overall, and how many people placed winning bets.
Thus, when a great deal of people bet on a race, the prize pool grows to enormous heights, ensuring a bigger payout to those who pick the right ponies. For this reason, its a good idea to place your wagers at the track, or at a popular online sports betting site where lots of wagers are going to come in.
Gambling is nothing new to mankind. We’ve been doing it ever since our cavemen ancestors learned to throw rocks. In Canada, casinos – online and on land – have a rich history, and no doubt a bright future ahead.
Origins of Gambling in Canada
While it’s impossible to say just how long Canadians have been gambling, the earliest records point all the way back to 1485, when King Richard III outlawed dice games for fear his archers had become overly distracted from their duties, putting the safety of the country in jeopardy. That ban wasn’t lifted until March 15, 1999 by the government of Ottawa; 611 years later.
In 1497, John Cabot discovered Natives playing games of chance. He noted that these games weren’t just random gambling amusements, but had a deeper meaning for the tribes, encouraging physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth.
78 Years of Prohibition
The first form of relative legislation came about centuries later, when a blanket ban on gambling was scripted into the Criminal Code of Canada in 1892. All gambling, in all forms and manners, was outlawed.
It wasn’t until 1970 that the legal landscape finally began to change. The country gave individual provinces the right to authorise and regulate certain forms of gambling, and it didn’t take long for them to build the first casinos in Canada.
New Era: Canada Casinos Online and On Land
In 1971, Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall officially opened as the country’s first casino (of legal standing, that is) in Dawson City, Yukon. Other provinces were slower to react, with Calgary, Alberta’s Cash Casino opening next in 1980.
From there, it was a virtual onslaught of Canadian casinos as more than 100 gambling facilities of all sizes and orientations were established. From British Columbia to Quebec, the last four decades have seen provincial lotteries, racetracks, casinos and sportsbooks launch across the nation, mostly as charitable entities that benefit government programs and local communities.
In the late 1990’s, we began to see online casinos in Canada. The digital gambling industry evolved quickly, and grew at a rapid pace in the True North, but mostly from international sources.
In 1999, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, based in Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, became the first to regulate Canada casinos online from within the country, but did so on sovereign land, and therefore under sovereign law.
The first provincially run sites were launched and regulated by the Atlantic Lottery Corp (ALC) and British Columbia Lottery Corp (BCLC). Both were established in 2004, but choose to restrict the games to online lotto only.
Then in 2010, the BCLC expanded its services on PlayNow to present the first true, Canadian-licenced, real money online casino. In the beginning, it offered games like blackjack, roulette and slot machines, expanding over the coming years to include poker, bingo, keno and sports betting.
Loto-Quebec launched EspaceJeux in December of that same year, followed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) launching PlayOLG in January, 2015.
Future of Live and Online Casinos in Canada
For now, provinces provide the only locally regulated Canada casinos online, and despite the claims of some, it is perfectly legal for residents to deposit and play at offshore, internationally licensed operations. That could change if provinces manage to pass some type of ring-fencing legislation, but Canadian law has consistently prevented them from doing so.
It’s also possible that provincial governments could seek to ally with offshore operators, generating revenue by providing licences to international sites and collecting applicable taxes. But that’s not likely to happen so long as governments continue to focus on ways to shore up their monopoly, rather than sharing in the wealth of a steadily growing global industry.
As for land-based casinos in Canada, revenue has been on the decline in most regions. Some blame the digital age and efficacy of mobile gaming. Others point to a flagging economy, reduced interest from millennials, or increased competition across the US border. These are certainly all contributing factors, but with a population of fun-loving, entertainment seeking Canucks, the brick-and-mortar gambling industry won’t be fading away anytime soon.
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Since the invention of the smartphone, social media has become paramount to everyday life, giving us access to people, entertainment, a multi-player gaming environment and constant interaction. From an industrial point of view, social marketing is now the number one avenue for promoting businesses. But for real money casino apps, that path is largely blocked.
A study by Statista Research & Analysis released earlier this year indicated that social networking outlets like Facebook and Twitter would continue to attract an exponentially growing number of users over the coming years.
In 2010, the report showed 970 million people around the world accessing social media. That number doubled to 1.91 billion in 2014, rising further to 2.34 billion in 2016, with potential to reach 2.95 billion by 2020. Facebook remains the top dog in the social networking field, reporting a staggering 1.71 billion monthly active users.
IMG Statista Social Media Users
Industrial marketing teams, both for long established businesses and entrepreneurs, are well aware of the fact that social media is so vastly popular with their target audience.
According to a Hubspot report published in 2014, 92% of all marketing teams surveyed indicated that social media is vital to their business, and has helped increase exposure for their respective brands. 80% said they’ve experience increased traffic due to their social marketing efforts.
Mobile Casino Apps Left Wanting
Throughout it all, there’s one industry that’s been left out on the cold. In most regions, real money casino apps are blocked or banned from advertising via social media. Networks like Facebook and WebChat make a point not to encourage gambling on mobile casino apps, while China’s immensely popular Wiebo prohibits any form of wager-related advertising.
The reasoning is simple enough. Despite gambling being legal – once a person reaches a certain age, of course – there’s an overwhelming perception that its bad for you. It falls under the same reasoning that saw a prohibition against cigarette advertisements in the 1970’s, which had a lot to do with potentially promoting age-restricted activities to minors.
Copula Marketing Firm Has The Solution
One marketing firm believes its got a solution to the problem. Emmanuel Vivas, founder of digital market firm Copula.ph, told Stephanie Raquel of CalvinAyre.com that operators can avoid any legal ramifications by taking a more subtle, indirect approach to promoting their mobile casino apps on social media.
Vivas used online bookmakers as a prime example, explaining that they can open a social media page promoting a team or event series, rather than the actual betting service. It would provide a forum for discussion among fans, where operators could post textual advertisements, rather than direct social marketing ads.
He suggested that operators not “look into marketing directly to social media but more on gathering the people who are interested in like teams of sports”, particularly those whose interests lie with gambling on those sports. “In that way, we get a lot of people who are interested, and, at the right moment when these teams are playing, you can send a message to these fans, and they go to this place, and they can support them by making a bet.
“These are very legal and not connected to betting or wagering,” said Vivas.
For years, Quebecois have been taking advantage of internationally regulated online casino websites to place wagers over the internet. Then in late 2010, the province launched EspaceJeux.com, a Quebec online casino regulated by it’s own gaming authority, Loto-Quebec. Six years later, residents are still at odds to which operators they do business with.
The following is a comprehensive guide that details the advantages and inferiority between the two from a player’s perspective. We’ll also delve into the legal standpoint, and whether it’s relative to the argument at this time.
Benefits of Quebec Online Casino Regulation
The use of EspaceJeux provides advantages for both players and the provincial government.
By authorizing and regulating its own, homegrown online casino, Loto-Quebec is able to provide its citizens with peace of mind. Players are promised a safe, secure gaming experience where all financial transactions and information processing is protected by their own government.
EspaceJeux.com went live on December 1, 2010, providing customers with a variety of online poker games, as well as popular casino games like slots, blackjack, baccarat, roulette and more. In 2011, the online poker side of the business was conjoined with that of British Columbia’s PlayNow poker room, sharing liquidity among players.
As for government’s benefits, the Quebec online casino is also able to collect taxes, which puts money back into the province to help support local organizations, charities and community programs that benefit the region.
Taxation has long been the number one argument of government officials, who are reasonably irritated by the amount of money flowing into offshore accounts – money they have no jurisdiction to collect taxes on.
While there are no genuine statistics reporting how many Canadians gambling online with unregulated websites, it’s been identified that they contribute to an estimated $4 billion each year to offshore sports betting alone. That figure would rise substantially if internet casino, poker and other gambling forms were added to the equation.
Benefits of Internationally Regulated Casinos
You will find absolutely no benefits for the provincial government in this section, but the advantages for Quebec online casino players are many.
The promotional aspect is the most attractive for players. While Quebec limits the type and value of promotional offerings on EspaceJeux, international operators are not restricted, and therefore tend to provide much more frequent and valuable promotions to their players, including bonus offers, free spins, VIP perks and more.
Game variety is another asset enjoyed by players at offshore gambling websites. Quebec online casino regulators have only authorized a specific strain of gambling amusements, and even some of the most popular varieties are missing. For instance, you won’t find any Craps tables on EspaceJeux. The video poker selection is also quite limited, with only half a dozen options listed. For video poker fans, the ability to access 4x as many at offshore online casinos like Royal Vegas makes a pretty big difference.
The largest argument for internationally regulated gambling sites comes from sports betting enthusiasts. In Quebec, sports betting is only legal when wagers are placed as parlays, meaning punters must select 3+ winners, and all must win to receive a payout. Overseas sportsbooks offer a plethora of betting options, including single-event betting. And on top of that, they also provide those superior promotions noted above.
Even poker players are often drawn away from homegrown gaming options. Despite Quebec’s efforts to expand the player base by sharing liquidity with their neighbors in BC, that network only caters to a couple hundreds ring game players at peak hours – not nearly as attractive as some of the internationally regulated gambling websites that average thousands of players on the felt at any given time.
The trade-off for players is that Quebec can’t guarantee their security or financial safety with websites that aren’t provincially regulated. However, so long as the operator is reputable, and is supervised by a distinguished international regulatory body, it should provide its players with the same level of security.
iGaming From a Legal Perspective
There’s a common question circulating the province. Is it illegal for Quebecois to gambling at internationally regulated websites?
Unfortunately, the answer tends to vary, depending on who you ask.
Online gambling continues to fall into a grey area of the law. According to Quebec online casino regulators and many government officials, the answer is yes… sort of.
Some say it’s illegal for players to wager at offshore gaming websites. Others say it’s not illegal for the players, but that operators are violating the law by accepting players from Quebec. And then there are those who don’t hold government office, but do carry impressive law degrees – the experts, as we often call them – who say the Criminal Code of Canada does nothing to deem offshore online casinos illegal.
Technically speaking, the law only prohibits any operator with a physical presence on Canadian land, that isn’t regulated by a Canadian authority, from accepting Canadian wagers. That sentiment was confirmed by legal expert Michael Lipton, Q. C., a partner with the law firm Dickinson Wright, LLP, who specializes in ‘compliance, governance and due diligence requirements integral to the gaming industry’.
“There have been no recent prosecutions — none whatsoever,” said Lipton earlier this year. “There have only been two prosecutions ever in Canada in relation to Internet gaming and both involved servers located in Canada. One was in 2001, the other was in 2007.”
Since the advent of virtual currencies, and more specifically, “virtual commodities”, a very fine line has been drawn between what does and does not constitute real money gambling online. The issue has been highlighted by a UK court trial in which two men have been accused of facilitating illegal gambling, including the advertisement of gambling services to minors.
The two Essex men in question are Craig Douglas (31) and Dylan Rigby (33), a pair of video bloggers who record and upload football game content on YouTube, and at the same time, advertised for the website www.futgalaxy.com; a website where access from UK customers was blocked earlier this year.
Both men were charged with advertising unlawful gambling. Additionally, Douglas was charged with inviting minors to gamble, while Rigby was charged with providing facilities for gambling without a license.
According to the UK Gambling Commission, all counts are direct violations of the Gambling Act of 2005.
Using Virtual Items for Real Money Gambling?
The offences are related to the use of a virtual commodity known as Fifa Coins, which can be purchased or win in the Fifa computer game, and can be used on www.futgalaxy.com, and some other third-party sites, to place bets on virtual football matches and other eSports. The winnings can then be transferred back into the Fifa game.
After being charged in September, Douglas and Rigby pleaded not guilty on October 14. The hearing will begin on February 6, 2017, where the Birmingham Magistrates’ Court will whether or not Fifa coins constitute a virtual currency.
If that’s the case, computer game companies and websites that deal in these virtual currencies would be required by UK law to apply for a regulatory licence from the Gambling Commission, as their activities would fall under the guidelines of real money gambling.
Gambling Commission’s Mind Made Up
The Gambling Commission published a discussion paper in August in which a warning was emitted to operators of internet-based platforms that supply eSports betting where virtual commodities, obtained in game, are used to facilitate wagers. The Commission advised operators that they may require a gambling license to continue their services.
Trading of in-game items that can be bought, won, traded, sold or used were deemed “digital commodities” by the Commission, especially when those items can be “converted into money or money’s worth”. In cases where those items can be gambled with, the Commission defined them as “a form of virtual currency”.
Christopher Rees-Gay of Pinsent Masons, who specializes in gambling law and licensing, and is a prime legal consultant for Out-Law.com, gave his opinion on the matter.
“The crux of the issue is whether in-game items have a monetary value derived from the current market price and can be converted back into real-world money, and whether the court’s interpretation of the Gambling Act accords with that of the Gambling Commission on the matter of virtual currencies,” said Rees-Gay.
“The Commission in its recent discussion paper stated that ‘where ‘skins’ are traded or are tradable and can therefore act as a de facto virtual currency and facilities for gambling with those items are being offered‘ it considers that a gambling licence is required,” he explained, noting that facilitating gambling without a license “is an offence under section 33 of the Gambling Act 2005…”
Rees-Gay called this an “important case”, as it will clear up an existing “grey area” of the law for operators in terms of what does and does not constitute real money gambling where virtual items and currencies are concerned.