Canada Faces Challenges of Online Gambling and its Affect on the Young
In Canada, the issue of online gambling is becoming a major issue of debate of some import. One of those leading the debate is Robert Williams, a Lethbridge University academic. This is a name that is fast becoming synonymous with negative views with regard to this subject. In recent years the numbers of those participating in online gambling in Canada has been expanding with the point having been reached where more is being spent at online casinos than actually at land based casinos. As a result of this fast growth of the online gambling industry, Robert Williams, warns of even greater issues in the future with problem gambling in Canada stemming from this growing interest. According to Williams, greater accessibility and improved payout rates due to the relatively low overhead of an online site, acts to attract more players.
Williams has already been able to bring forth useful information, which arguably claims that the results of free-play results at online casinos are superior to that of the real-money gambling so as to deceive and entice players and to take their money, and at the same time, he reports that his studies clearly demonstrate that underage gamblers extensively use free-play facilities. In addition his studies show that as many as half of North American high school and post-secondary students have at one time or another taken advantage of free-play online gambling sites.
While in Canada the average monthly loss for all gamblers is $82, the individual loss for online Internet gamblers is $541. While the statistic for problem gambling stands at about 3 percent, this is increasing and it is reported that the majority of online gambling revenue is derived from this source. For the year of 2008, the estimated take worldwide in online gambling revenues reached $20 billion.
This figure comes from Williams’ report which was written in conjunction with the assistance of the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre.
Despite Canadian restrictions that confine gambling to provincially approved operators, the Kahnawake First Nation online gambling licensing jurisdiction is allowed to host some 300 to 400 Internet gambling websites. Williams points out in his report that it is almost impossible to prohibit online gambling. He adds that the case of the Mohawks is unique in that they are so militant with regard to their advancing their sovereignty issues and because they represent such a sensitive area as regards the Quebec government that the government chooses not to prosecute.
Williams points out that since people are going to gamble anyway, it is better to carefully regulate it so as to reap the economic benefits while at the same time, increasing services for problem gamblers. He adds that now that online gambling has become a part of the country’s entertainment culture, the only way to protect and to better service gamers is to regulate it.