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The Ontario government is set to pass a bill amending the Consumer Protection Act to make it unlawful for Ontario businesses to advertise for gambling that is not endorsed by the province. Therefore, the CFL will not be allowed to advertise for Bowman's in Ontario and the Toronto Maple Leafs will not be allowed to advertise for pokerroom.tv anymore. And, of course, all the radio and T.V. stations will have to pull their ads which feature gambling websites. Will this action stop people from betting online? Not likely. The only people this bill will truly affect are the Ontario businessmen (and by extension, the people that work for those businessmen) that rely on this advertising revenue stream.
While Jeff Leal, who introduced the bill, in March was clear on his website that this was protectionism and nothing more (he worried about the hits that the lotteries and Kawartha Downs racetrack were taking), Gerry Phillips seems to have a very different reason for getting the bill passed. Phillips has mentioned the perils of gambling and particularly the number of young people who bet online. What he doesn't mention is that the majority of young sports bettors play Proline because they can afford to lose a dollar or two. Young people generally don't play online, because they can't afford the large deposit amounts that most sites require. Phillips also suggests that websites don't have minimum age requirements to join and gamble, citing that at the 10 sites he looked at, some didn't have any minimum age requirement posted on their websites. Majorwager.com advertises for dozens of gambling sites and has represented upwards of 100 gambling sites since its inception. One can be assured that all the sites Majorwager.com has advertised for have a minimum age requirement of 18 years old to join, make deposits and gamble. In general, these gambling sites have listed on their front pages that one must be 18 to join the site and one must leave if one is not at least 18 years old. Gambling websites take no more or less precaution concerning age than any other "adults only" websites on the World Wide Web. Further, for one to argue that the government is concerned about the low income population losing what little income they have, therefore internet gambling must be stopped, is a fallacy. Studies of lotteries show that the largest block of lottery players are those in the lower income brackets---the people who can least afford to lose their money. Online studies have shown that the majority of online bettors are higher income individuals with university or college education. The government has argued that betting among young people online has increased 4 fold in the last 5 years. The fact that internet usage has increased by more than that for the overall population wouldn't contribute to that, now would it?
This bill is being proposed for one reason: to stop the advertising of gambling sites under the guise of protecting the younger and lower income people (because only the federal government can criminalize online gambling). But is the advertising in question really targeted to those groups? How many ads for online gaming companies show older teens or young 20-somethings betting sports or poker? One would have a hard time finding any online gambling ads fitting that description. Yet some Ontario lottery ads show very young adults walking into their fathers' offices to give them early retirement since they won 6-49. Another lottery ad shows a very immature, new employee hiring illusionists since he won $1,000 a week on Payday. And of course all the Casino Rama, Niagara and Windsor ads show young people at the tables and slots. So whose advertising is really influencing young people to gamble---the online gambling ads, or the state sponsored gambling ads?
Hopefully our federal government will realize, like Great Britain, Australia and other commonwealths, that regulating gambling is a better alternative than prohibition (which never works). The United States has opted to pass legislation in a futile attempt to dictate to Americans what they should do with their money. Our Stephen Harper has claimed that he is not a U.S. puppet; a great way for him to prove that would be to shun the U.S.'s call to ban online gambling (while it rakes in tax revenues from lotteries, racetracks and Video Lottery Terminals) and instead endorse a regulated system that works well in both Europe and Australia.
Note to editor
MajorWager is arguably the largest online watchdog/news provider of internet sportsbooks and pokerrooms. MajorWager has been featured by MSNBC, Wall Street Journal and most recently on ESPN's "inside the lines" as well as many mentions in various mediums .Russ Hawkins is the founder and CEO of MajorWager