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Quebec Passes Bill to Block Online Gambling Operators ‘ IPs – Now What?

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For over a year members of Quebec’s parliament have been debating proposed legislation that would force local servers to block unauthorized online gambling sites. Now, the legislation has become law and a legal fight is looming, pitting the provincial government against local internet service providers (ISP) and free Internet advocates.

 

On May 17, Bill 74 was approved by the Quebec legislature. The bill authorizes the ministry of finance to order ISPs to IP-block any online gambling site that competes with EspaceJeux, the site run by provincial Loto Quebec gambling corporation.

 

At this point Loto Quebec is responsible for drawing up the list of freemarket sites that are to be blocked. ISPs that are unable or unwilling to enforce this blacklist risk fines of up to $100k per incident. The ISPs are expected to underwrite the cost of blocking the sites which, they object, will be significant.

 

Bill 74 is also called the Consumer Protection Act. Responsibility for monitoring compliance is given to Société des loteries du Québec. The Societe reports to the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux regarding service providers who fail to comply with the Act. The Régie then informs the servers that they have failed to comply with the law and can investigate the issues when needed.

Internet watchdogs and ISPs have been objecting for over a year about the law which, the Finance Minister, said was necessary to help control problem gambling and gamblers with addictive behaviors. Finance Minister Carlos Leitao said that Quebec will avoid constitutional challenges since the law is an issue regarding “public health.” Through the law the province will be able to ensure that only Loto-Quebec, which has the tools to protect the province’s problem gamblers from self-abuse, operates lotteries and other gambling concerns in Quebec.

 

Objections

Groups that are objecting to the new law say that such censorship has no precedent in Canada. They also point out that issues involving telecommunications fall under federal jurisdiction, not provincial.

 

.They point out that Leitao told the legislature that, by blocking IPs of freemarket casinos, Loto-Quebec will benefit. It’s estimated that Loto Quebec will gain approximately $27m per year once freemarket casinos have been blocked and competition has been eliminated.

 

 

The Federal government’s House of Commons reviewed Bill 74 in April. Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly acted as spokesperson for the ruling Liberal party, saying that the Liberals “believe in net neutrality.” She said that the Liberals plan to have “ongoing discussions” with Quebec officials to clarify how  Bill 74 will affect Freedom of Speech. Now that the bill has been passed the discussions are likely to move to a court of law.

Affected Sites

The Loto-Quebec blacklist is expected to exempt sites owned by Montreal-based Amaya Gaming which has partnered with Loto-Quebec over the years in B2B projects. To skirt the prohibition on freemarket sites, Leitao endorsed a report that said that Loto Quebec should license a select group of private online operators, such as Amaya Gaming. Leitao has not responded to objections that Bill 74, and the subsequent licensing of select private operators, is an attempt to serve select private interests.

Freemarket Casinos

Leitao is objecting to the fact that, for many years, freemarket casinos have been operating in Quebec where they draw a significant percentage of the gambling market from Loto Quebec.

 

It’s not surprising that Quebec residents prefer to play at freemarket casinos. Many players find that Loto Quebec is too commercial and too overwhelming. Lottery winners are required to publicize their wins and participate in public ceremonies where their privacy is deemed to e unimportant. Loto Quebec takes a high percentage of the revenues from the casino as operating expenses and as part of their mandated obligation to give back to the community. The games selection is limited and mobile gaming is not available.

 

In contrast, the freemarket casinos provide a more satisfying and rewarding casino experience where gamers can find relaxation and satisfaction. There are many reasons that Canadians choose to gamble at the freemarket casinos, as evidenced by the increasing numbers of freemarket casino members.who come from Canada.

 

The freemarket casino offers hundreds of the top Canadian games including table games, card games, slots, lotteries, variety games, arcade games and more. In addition to the classic blackjack, poker, roulette, baccarat and craps, it’s possible to find variations of these games which present a more challenging and rewarding gambling adventure.

 

One of the biggest advantages of freemarket gambling involves the take home payouts. Gamblers who play at a freemarket casino often do so because the rewards are much higher at a freemarket casino than they are at a land-based casino. That actually seems to be one of the biggest reasons for Canadians’ preference for freemarket casino gaming. Since there are no overhead costs in a freemarket casino, the house edge is significantly lower than that of a land-based casino or even those of the provincial Gambling and Lotteries corporation online sites. The promise of higher winnings encourages many gamers to forgo regional gaming options and head to the freemarket casinos.

 

Going Mobile

Freemarket casino players can move smoothly from PC to mobile gambling activities. The freemarket casinos have mobile platforms which are connected to the gamer’s central casino account. It’s easy to move to mobile casino pursuits and play at any time and from any location on a smartphone or tablet. The freemarket casinos can be accessed via the casino’s mobile webpage or through the mobile app.

 

 

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I began reporting on Canada’s land-based casinos in the early ’90s when the casinos’ popularity started to grow among both Canadian and foreign gamblers. Throughout over 2 decades of reporting, both for print journalism and TV news shows, I documented different casino trends, beginning with the small casino venues which popped up on First Nation Reserves and expanding to reports of deluxe casino sites which can now be found in almost every major Canadian cities.
Today I serve as a confidant of Canadian casino owners and operators who look to me to help them decide where to build new casinos, which games to feature and how to expand casino entertainment options for Canadians.
I was the first Canadian writer to identify the impact that the new cybercurrencies would have on Canadian casinos. This work has helped the casinos prepare for the new payment methods in a timely fashion.