Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Online gambling expansion off to shaky start

Another milestone. B.C. is now the best place on Earth, or at least in North America, to lose serious money gambling in your own home.
Drunk, desperate, addicted, the B.C. government is giving every citizen the chance to lose more than $500,000 a year.
The government launched full-scale Internet gambling last week, becoming the first jurisdiction in North America to decide that letting people bet from home was a good idea.
It's a good idea for government revenues, to be sure. Gambling losses - lottery tickets, slots and the rest - are a big cash source for governments.
Since 2001, when the Liberals were elected on a promise to halt gambling expansion because it was destroying lives, government gambling revenues - and British Columbians' losses - have doubled.
Adults in B.C. lose an average $590 a year betting against the government. (Organized crime gave bettors a better deal when it ran Vegas.)
But about one-third of us don't gamble or just spend a small amount in scratch-and-lose tickets. The average loss for B.C. Lotteries core customers is more like $890,
The prize customers are the gamblers that casinos describe as "whales," the people who will keep on betting as they lose huge amounts.
It's a great business model. Set yourself up as a monopoly supplier of an addictive product - drugs, alcohol, gambling.
And then wait for your most lucrative customers - affluent, out-of-control addicts.
The Globe and Mail did a fine series last year on gambling. The newspaper filed freedom of information requests about the B.C. Lotteries "Gold Players Card." That's a customer loyalty program designed to keep big losers coming back to lose more. The card lets casinos and the Crown corporation know where the whales bet, how much they lose and the snacks they like.
The FOI request revealed 10 B.C. gamblers lost a combined $11.7 million in the previous year. Eight people gambled away more than $1 million each.
The 100 biggest losers lost an average $270,000 in the previous year.
Some of them might have been able to afford to lose $5,000 a week.
But some are suffering because of their gambling. So are their families.
Like any addict, the government can't get enough gambling revenue. New casinos, mini-casinos in smaller communities, small-time online betting - they all introduced to take more money from British Columbians.
The first online casino in North America offers the chance for another big leap in the amount of money we lose.
The government thinks so. Online B.C. Lotteries losses were limited to $120 a week up until last year. The goal was help keep people from falling into addiction and disaster.
But then the cabinet decided to raise the limit so gamblers could lose $9,999 a week. (At $10,000, the transaction would have to be reported to the federal government because of concerns about criminal money laundering. B.C. Lotteries revealed this week it has been fined $500,000 this week for violating federal anti-money laundering laws.)
The new online casino crashed when it was launched last Friday. B.C. Lotteries had been offering cash incentives to get more people to bet; at first the corporation blamed the problems on high demand.
On Tuesday, it revealed that the site's security had broken down. Some 130 gamblers' accounts - some with sensitive information - could be accessed by others. B.C. Lotteries is hiring a security firm to see if hackers were at work.
Gambling Minister Rich Coleman justified the expansion into online gambling by noting some British Columbians were already betting on the Internet using unregulated site. Better to provide them with a controlled gambling opportunity and keep the money in the province, he said.
But that's not really what the government is doing. It's promoting online gambling heavily and hopes to triple the take, to $100 million, in three years.
Online gambling is just another way for government to recruit more gamblers and increase the average amount each person loses - both approved goals for the lottery corporation each year.
Footnote: Online gambling poses greater risks of addiction and big losses, according to the government's responsible gambling website. A study released last year found online gamblers "play"
more frequently and bet more aggressively than people who go to casinos.
Their gambling was easier to hide from friends and family.
About 35,000 British Columbians already have a severe gambling problem, according the B.C. Medical Association.


cherylb said...

It's absolutely disgusting how this government takes advantage of people's weaknesses and addictions, milks them and their families of every last dime, and then cuts them loose to find their own way. The greed, corruption and deceit reminds me of the final Roman Days. What has happened to our beautiful BC? We need to take it back!

Anonymous said...

imagine this. Radical Tamils, Seiks, Muslims, etc. take their $9,999.99 to the casino and cash out at $9,999.90 and ship the BCLC Cheque through a Money Mart to their terrorists in home countries. What is the Liberal reaction to criticism? Not our prob lem. As long as they get their cut who cares? way to go Gordon Campbell.

DPL said...

The 500,000 dollar fines are now reported to be 650,000. Just about half the money grab Gordo made when he stuck us with the HST

kootcoot said...

DPL, Stevie has to get his 1.6 billion dollar bribe back somehow, after all!

Isn't it time for the government to get involved in more questionable activities, they're happening anyway and as Ricky Boy Coleman sez, why not support BC's education and health systems at the same time? Perhaps most government agencies could be self-supporting (no taxes) if they were allowed to contract out "questionable" services to the public - saving the public the trouble of having to deal with more conventional criminal elements!

Anonymous said...

The corporate media's consensus choice to succeed Chairman Campbell as the public head of BC Liberal Inc. is former RCMP officer Rich Coleman.

Former cop Coleman closed the BCLC crime watchdog integrated illegal gaming enforcement team - but why?

Today we learn that British Columbia Lotteries Corp (BCLC) has been fined $670,000 for failing to enforce basic illegal gambling laws, BCLC withheld information and mislead the public for days that accounts had been hacked in the new online gambling site. Nice work Rich.

Now we also learn today that Gary Mason at The Globe and Mail has written:

Allen Dalstrom’s troubles began when he opposed the RCMP’s attempt to shut down a major drug investigation by the OCABC. Mr. Dalstrom was the lead investigator on the probe, called Project Phoenix, which was targeting Hells Angels.

The RCMP, though it had officers on the OCABC, was upset that Phoenix might jeopardize its own parallel undercover drug investigation. It is widely believed that Mr. Dalstrom’s successful defence of Phoenix earned him the eternal enmity of the RCMP.


Andy Richards was Mr. Dalstrom’s supervisor during the plaintiff’s time at OCABC. Mr. Richards, now a senior ranking officer with the Port Moody, B.C., municipal police, had a front-row seat on the unsightly antics allegedly being cooked up to get rid of a respected investigator. In an interview, he said he was asked to change Mr. Dalstrom’s employee performance appraisal to make it less flattering. Mr. Richards refused. He said statements Mr. Douglas was alleged to have made about “starving” Mr. Dalstrom out and bringing up the unfounded sexual misconduct allegations were made in his company.

Asked why he thought such a lavish out-of-court settlement was offered to Mr. Dalstrom, Mr. Richards said: “I think OCABC and the government wanted all that nastiness and RCMP dirty tricks to remain a secret.” He added: “It really is one of the sorriest chapters in our policing history in this province.”

Did Coleman close the BCLC crime watchdog integrated illegal gaming enforcement team because it was stepping on his old colleagues toes?

Anonymous said...

check this out: Rich Coleman having dinner with Patrick Kinsella