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Second Canadian Online Casino Goes Live

By: Adam Richards, Sunday December 5th 2010
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The first provincially regulated online casino in Canada was PlayNow.com launched by The British Columbia Lottery Corporation earlier this year. Now Espacejeux.com developed by Loto Quebec has gone live. Quebec is in physical proximity to Kahnawake, which is a leading international online gaming jurisdiction located in the First Nation of the Mohawks. The Quebec provincial government had given its consent for the project earlier this year. Espacejeux.com was launched this week offering millions of dollars in promos and with widespread publicity in the Canadian media.

Espacejeux.com is offering online poker and online casino games like roulette, blackjack and table games. Online slots are at the moment conspicuous by their absence. The natty looking website offers gaming in both French and English. The focus is beyond doubt on poker with a large number of promotions and prize pool tournaments announced. Loto Quebec has not released information on how many Quebecers signed up initially or how much was wagered online on the opening day. However, a Loto Quebec spokesman did say that Espacejeux.com expects to attract between 10,000 and 20,000 Quebecers before Christmas, and generate 50 million Canadian dollars in revenues through 2012.

Every venture finds some detractors and Espacejeux.com has met with opposition from an association that represents the interests of retired public and parapublic workers. The Association's president, Luc Vallerand, quoted recent studies as suggesting that senior citizens are more at risk when it comes to online gambling. He called on all Quebecers aged 55 and more to boycott the online gambling site. Speaking to the Montreal Gazette he said, "We think that Loto Quebec's offer of Internet gambling is going to give them a false sense of security. Players will think that there is no danger or potential for problems on Loto Quebec's site. And they may not see what it is costing them because a credit card can be used." Jean-Fran├žois Biron, a gambling researcher, claimed that the incidence of senior citizens taking to online gambling was increasing in countries where this activity has been legal. He told the Montreal Gazette that in England the participation rate for people age 55 to 64 jumped from 2.7% in 2006 to 8% in 2010. In Sweden, the number of problem gamblers among women aged 45 to 64 doubled after state sanctioned online gambling was introduced.

Notwithstanding such opposition, there are other Canadian provinces getting ready to offer online gambling. It is widely expected that the province of Ontario will be next. In Saskatchewan the First Nation tribes are exploring online gambling possibilities in partnership with the provincial government. Meanwhile there are collaboration plans between British Columbia and Quebec. The online gambling ventures of the two provinces will allow players from both provinces to compete against each other on a common network based in Montreal.

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