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Manitoba to Launch Online Gambling

By: Joan Peppin, Saturday April 7th 2012
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Manitoba is likely to become the fourth Canadian province to legalize and regulate online gambling. Quebec and British Columbia already offer online gambling services through their respective provincial lotteries. Similar services in Ontario are expected to go live later this year. Manitoba is taking the wise course of teaming up with British Columbia so as to take advantage of their experience and expertise. The actual collaboration will take place between the lottery corporations of the two provinces.

A spokesman for Manitoba Lotteries has stated that the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) business model has been found best suited for regulated online gambling in its province. The BCLC online gambling site functions in the name and style of The Honorable Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for BCLC, said, "We are pleased to share our expertise with Manitoba to strengthen regulated online gambling in Canada." Michael Graydon, president and CEO of BCLC, pointed out that this project will be an innovation for his lottery. They would be creating a new revenue stream for BCLC by leveraging its knowhow and vendor base to provide similar services to another jurisdiction.

Under the terms of understanding, BCLC will provide site design, development and testing services and will also manage the Manitoba online gambling website. The software technology and content for the online casino will be sourced from Openbet. The online gambling site will definitely launch in 2013 with casino and poker games. Attempts are being made to launch sports betting and bingo simultaneously. The online gambling operation will be under the Manitoba Lotteries banner and will be regulated by the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission. The exact terms and conditions are still under negotiation. But obviously the lottery corporations of both Canadian provinces will stand to gain. Economies of scale will come into play and so will the liquidity from a larger player base for games such as poker.

Manitoba Lotteries Minister Steve Ashton explained the decision of his province to go for online gambling. He said that the activity was already present in Canada, and that Manitoba needed to keep pace with it and earn due rewards from it. He estimated that Manitobans spend 37 million Canadian dollars wagering at 2,000 online gambling sites and the province does not earn anything from it. He added, "We view the new site as a way of keeping that in the province." 5% of the net revenues from online gambling will be used to fund gambling addiction programs, as compared to 2% from land gambling. Manitoba's online gambling site will bring in $1.5 million in its first year and about $17 million a year by 2018.

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