In general, I find little fault with the way the Ontario Lottery And Gaming Corporation is proceeding with its plan to launch its own online gaming site. OLG are consulting experts and delaying the launch date until sometime in 2012, both of which should help them avoid the pitfalls experienced by their counterparts in British Columbia, who charged in blindly without apparent consideration that exposing their player’s private financial data might be a bad idea. I hope the experts OLG is consulting, as well as the technology providers they ultimately choose to build their platform, are Canadian. There’s a ton of homegrown expertise out there, although much of it has been forced to go abroad to make use of their skills (the result of previous governments failing to appreciate these techies’ talents).
That said, Ontario’s move has prompted the usual suspects to issue a few hyperbolic quotes that are simply too outrageous to ignore. These people seem unaware that the online gaming industry is rapidly approaching its 20th anniversary, and the security and underage gaming issues that were once a valid concern have long since been addressed by the (mostly) European-run private online gaming companies. As for the accusation that problem gaming is somehow more of a problem depending on the manner in which one accesses one’s digital entertainment, Harvard studies have conclusively established otherwise.
I also take issue with Ontario’s government referring to their online offering as ‘legal’. All the major international online gaming companies are legal, but by tying this term to their own product, Ontario is implying that these other companies are somehow illegal. This is the equivalent of the Chinese government referring to Time magazine as an illegal publication because Chinese authorities don’t want their citizens accessing Time’s website. When someone opens an account with an international company that is legally operating within its home jurisdiction, the transaction is considered to be processed where that company is located, making it a perfectly legal transaction. Would Canadian banks – which allow foreigners to open accounts and issue transaction instructions from their home territories – consider themselves more bound by the regulations in place in that customer’s home territory, or by the regulations in the bank’s home jurisdiction? I think the answer to that question is fairly obvious, don’t you? Read more.