Joining the likes of Australia's Senate Inquiry and Productivity Commission, the U.K. Gambling Review Body and the U.S. Public Sector Gaming Study Commission, the Ontario government announced this week that it's conducting a study into the pros and cons of regulating Internet gambling.
The study, which began a year ago, delves a series of questions, including questions about what the Canadian Criminal Code says about illegal gambling. (The federal code leaves gambling in the hands of individual provinces to control.)
"We're looking at the whole issue and what the options are," explained David McBride, Senior Policy Advisor for the Ontario Gaming Secretariat. "... We're also studying, if the province does make the move to legalize Internet gambling, when and how far should we do it." For example, the government could extend the sale of current products over the Internet or develop an online casino, he said.
"Let's face it, the Internet is expanding at an exponential rate and the government has to be aware of all the problems related to Internet gambling and be able to address them in a timely fashion," Karen Vaux, a spokesperson for the Ontario gaming minister, told the Ottawa Citizen.
The government is also examining business issues related to Internet gambling and looking closely at the domestic vs. offshore argument in an effort to seek ways of dealing with offshore gaming sites. Age controls, security issues and problem gambling are being studied as well.
Several ministries are participating in the study, including regulators, politicians and legal experts. "We're starting the study internally," McBride added, "but it's too early to say when we'll go externally with it."
No timetable was given for the report's completion, although it could be released later this year.