Canadian MP Wants I-gaming Legislation

7 March 2008

A member of Canada's Parliament, Hon. Roy Cullen, has drafted legislation to address a competition problem faced by one of his largest constituents in Etobicoke North.

The constituent, Woodbine Racing, has complained for years about losing business to illegal Internet gambling. So Cullen has written a bill that would require financial institutions to block transactions for unauthorized Internet gambling, but he has not yet tabled the bill in the House of Commons and he admits he is not certain if it is the right solution to Woodbine's problem.

"My bill is closely modeled off legislation in the U.S., except that it doesn't distinguish between offshore and onshore gambling," Cullen told IGN.

He has put a question in to the House of Commons inquiring what the government intends to do about illegal Internet gambling, and he is working with Canada's Justice Minister to find a suitable solution. Cullen believes there are three realistic options.

"One option would be to open the market so that Woodbine and others can get in the game," Cullen said. "Right now their hands are tied because they're licensed provincially. If they could compete on a level playing field with offshore companies, they would be happy with that."

Another option is to enforce the provisions already in the Criminal Code that prohibit unauthorized gambling.

"The problem with that is that law enforcement has other problems to deal with," Cullen said.

The third option, the one for which Cullen has drafted provisions, is blocking payment to unauthorized Internet gambling.

Cullen said he has been contemplating the issue for a year or two. He has organized meetings with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other government agencies to enquire why the rules in the books aren't being enforced.

Now Cullen is waiting for the Justice Minister to respond to the question he put in to the House of Commons. He hopes the Justice Department will take the issue seriously and come up with a plan of its own.

Cullen said he will wait a few weeks, and if he gets nowhere with the government he will table his own legislation as a private members bill. "But I'm trying to be positive," he added.

Cullen was first elected to Parliament in 1996, and was subsequently re-elected in the 1997, 2000, 2004, and 2006 general elections. He announced last month that he would not seek re-election again.

In Canada, private member's bills are significantly more difficult to pass than government legislation.

Bradley Vallerius

Articles by Bradley P. Vallerius, JD manages For the Bettor Good, a comprehensive resource for information related to Internet gaming policy in the U.S. federal and state governments. For the Bettor Good provides official government documents, jurisdiction updates, policy analysis, and many other helpful research materials. Bradley has been researching and writing about the business and law of internet gaming since 2003. His work has covered all aspects of the industry, including technology, finance, advertising, taxation, poker, betting exchanges, and laws and regulations around the world.

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