The PEI government has received criticism from the opposition after giving the green light to an online casino without public discussion.
Canada.- The Government of Prince Edward Island (PEI) has been criticised for approving the launch of an online casino without public debate.
The site is to be launched by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.
The move has attracted criticism from opposition politicians who argue that there should be a public debate on the decision.
Darlene Compton, who also heads the PEI Lottery commission as well as sits as the government’s finance minister, told local media that all necessary consultation had been carried out by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.
She told CBC News: “One reason that we have an Atlantic Lottery Corporation is so that they can, in turn, do all the studies that are needed to ensure that the provinces are entering into any kind of agreement in a safe and regulated way.
“So the onus is on ALC to ensure that consultation is done, and it has been done for this product.”
Loto-Quebec has shown the potential of online gaming to make up for losses suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It saw revenue rise by 25.7 per cent to $96.4m in the province last year. It launched igaming offerings inMarch last year.
Opposition backlash to online casino
The PEI cabinet gave the green light to a virtual casino with no formal announcement. Opposition parties have called for a public discussion about its potential harms.
Critics have claimed that an online casino could be harmful in the context of the global pandemic when people are spending more time at home due to sanitary restrictions.
Compton responded to criticism by pointing at the illegal use of offshore sites throughout the pandemic. According to the ALC, residents of the four Atlantic provinces spend $100m on offshore sites each year.
“If people are doing it, we need to ensure that it’s regulated and that we can put all those protections in place to ensure Islanders are doing it in a safe way,” she said.
“As a province, we can regulate what the wagers are. You have a way of controlling how much time you play, how much you spend.… None of those things is happening with offshore sites.”