Earth Fund Awaits Verdict

31 January 2002

A three-day hearing regarding the Earth Fund's Internet-based lottery has concluded, but no verdict has been rendered as to the fate of the charity's lottery license.

A three-judge panel of the Prince Edward Island Court of Appeals heard the case on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. At issue is whether the Prince Edward Island provincial government had the authority to issue the Earth Fund, a charity supporting environmental causes, a license to operate an online lottery.

The Earth Fund and the company that operates the lottery, Lottery Management (PEI) Inc., as well as a few environmental-rights groups, presented arguments to the judges in favor of the lottery keeping its license. E. Marshall Pollock, president of Lottery Management, said those in favor of the charity keeping its license included the PEI attorney general, the Atlantic Salmon Fisheries Association and the Atlantic Wildlife Association.

Pollock said he got no feeling from the judges about what the outcome of the trial will be.

"They certainly understood the issues," he said. "Their questions were as penetrating to the Earth Fund as they were of the others."

Lynne Roiter, chairwoman of the Interprovincial Lottery Corp., said her organization opposes the Earth Fund's license because it believes that a lottery license that allows a lottery to sell tickets to residents outside of the province it is issued in is against Canada's criminal code. Also, she said, only provincial lotteries are allowed to operate electronic lotteries. Speaking in agreement with the IPLC at the hearing were the attorneys general of Canada and Quebec.

"The Earth Fund lottery has a license in Prince Edward Island and does not have the consent of any other province to conduct and manage a lottery in their jurisdictions," she said.

Roiter also said she could not comment on how the judges will decide.

"I don't think it's appropriate; the cases were made before them, they were attentive, and they will be deliberate and decide," she said.

The PEI government issued the Earth Fund its lottery license two years ago, but the charity has not been able to operate using it yet.