The British Columbia Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch has issued a warning to all international gambling websites to stay away from the British Columbia province and take their business elsewhere.
In the later part of last month the GPEB had issued out a sternly worded letter to 19 various online gambling companies that had been offering their services to consumers living in British Columbia. The letter warned them that the action of accepting these types of customers went against the Criminal Code of Canada and that further actions might be taken should the companies refuse to stop offering their services to customers in the region.
The letter that was sent out was recently acquired by eGaming Review, and shows that the letter is claiming that the British Columbia Lottery Corporation is the only one that may manage gambling services for customers living in Canada. Any other entity or organization may not overreach itself into the territory without the approval of the GPEB, which of course none of the operators that had the letter issued out to them had.
Whether or not this claim holds true is uncertain. Many will claim that because the operators don’t hold any physical location within Canada and are operating from outside regions that Canada has no jurisdiction over them and cannot pursue any sort of legal action or criminal persecution of the owners of these sites. On the other hand, if they chose to the GPEB could penalize the players that are accessing the site that are living in Canada, but this is obviously a bit more difficult to do.
This may be why the letter went on to state that the BCGC is looking into having talks with various European gambling regulators, which is likely to encourage them to take some sort of action to either limit the ability of sites in their jurisdiction from offering services to Canada or begin removing licenses for current violations of policy.
This isn’t the first time that a Canadian province has taken action against foreign online casino operators that impede on their territory. Both Quebec and Ontario had conferences with foreign regulators two years ago in order to try and address the issue. Many of these operators are bringing in Canadian customers, despite having a number of Canada-based gambling options, by offering specialized promotions and deals that look very appealing.
One of the more drastic actions that Canadian provinces have attempted is to completely block out certain IP addresses from being able to be used by web hosting companies based in Canada, which would give the government power to pick and choose which gambling sites to allow. This idea was passed along to the Canadian federal communications regulator, but it was shot down because the regulator did not see it as a priority. It also faced a lot of public scrutiny because the Internet is meant to be a free and open place, and a lot of people don’t get very pleased when the government tries to create censorship on it.