Last week, the B.C. government launched North America’s first officially sanctioned online casino in all of Canada and the U.S. This lone sanctioned site is a drop in the bucket compared to the more-than 2,000 unregulated online gambling sites spanning the map.
But, “Of these websites, not one is accountable to the residents of British Columbia, not accountable to the players that play on their sites, and not accountable to the laws of this country,” said Rich Coleman during a presentation of the website at a theatre on Granville Island last Thursday. Rich, who is the Minister of Housing and Social Development in the province, said British Columbians spend upward of $100 million a year on illegal offshore gambling sites—and he wants to see that money spent in B.C. instead.
Users can log on to PlayNow.com and play games in five categories, such as casino, bingo, and sports lottery. Casino games include p blackjack, sicbo, craps, and more, with poker expected to be added next year. Only British Columbia residents are able to access the site, and in accordance with law, users must be 19 and older to play.
Michael Graydon, who is the president of the B.C. Lottery Corporation, estimated the site will generate over 30 million dollars in increased revenues. That sum will be on top of the $30 million-plus per year generated by the online lottery, which started in 2004 on the same website. He also says that there is third party validation and cross reference process for new users to make sure the person is not part of the voluntary self excluded program, which is a government program intended to help people with gambling addictions.
Michael interestingly noted that research indicates online gambling is about five percent more addictive than regular gambling. “From our perspective, we understand that going into it. And that’s why we are putting as many responsible gambling initiatives and layers in place to support our players,” he said.
The government said safeguards are in place to help people with addiction problems, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun. These safeguards include GameSense reminders on screen, a session log displaying the amount of time players have spent online, a player pre-set deposit limit, and easy access to odds and factual game information.
Registered members whose ages and addresses have been verified will be allowed to spend up to $9,999 per week, or as little as $5.
There is been criticism over the max limit: Who has $119,988 spare change to spend per year on internet gambling without entering severe financial debt?
Will you try PlayNow?
EDITOR’S NOTE: The gambling site is down for an undisclosed reason, though unexpectedly high demand is a popular guess. This seemingly major omission was caused due to my own personal internet problems of late, resulting in my mistaken assumption the site wasn’t loading from my end. I apologize for not pointing this out in the original write-up.