An opposition politician in Canada’s Prince Edward Island (PEI) has questioned the provincial Government’s involvement in plans to pave the way for an online gaming industry to be established on the island.
The accusations were raised by politician James Aylward, who highlighted a report completed by a United Kingdom firm. Mr Aylward said the report showed the Prince Edward Island Government wished to use financial services technology as a way to support the regulation of online gaming on PEI.
Prince Edward Island’s Finance Minister Wes Sheridan responded by saying that there was no direct involvement from the Government in the report. Instead, Mr Sheridan reasserted to the opposition that the report was commissioned by an indigenous tribal council and Provincial Territorial Organization known as the Mi’kmaq Confederacy.
Mr Aylward was not convinced, however, saying that the 41-page report had the “government of Prince Edward Island all over it” and that it did not mention the Confederacy once in the entire report. He also mentioned that the report’s executive summary stated that “’The government of P.E.I. has committed to creating a global transaction platform in order to both generate income and create jobs.’”
Situated off the south east of the Canadian mainland, Prince Edward Island has around 140,000 people with an economy largely consisting of seasonal industries such as fishing, agriculture and tourism.
The island’s Government has run successive budget deficits since the 2007/2008 financial year, and is predicted to continue running deficits until at least 2015. It’s believed that between $7 and $10 million is spent on online gaming, including poker, in Prince Edward Island alone. A 2010 report, however, suggested that Islanders spend around $50 million on unregulated sites every year.
While developing an online gaming industry on the island would unlikely lead to automatic budget surpluses, it would likely have some sort of economic benefit. It would also further diversify the island’s economy, something it has been doing over the last decade via the devlopment of renewable energy and aerospace industries.
While the Finance Minister said the Government did not commission nor pay for the report, he did admit that the Government did explore the viability of an online gaming industry after the Confederacy approached it back in 2009. He also stated his belief that the Government should further explore the viability of establishing an industry.
Larger Canadian provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec already have online gaming sites. The province of Ontario is also expected to launch its own online gaming service, which is set to include online poker, later this year. For more information on these licensed sites visit http://www.online-casinos-canada.ca