Bill 74 Makes Headlines Again as Quebec Looks Set to Appeal Decision
The basic crux of the bill was that it required ISPs to implement a blanket block on all unlicensed online gaming sites, i.e. any site that wasn’t being ruin by the province.
Most Canadians who haven’t been living under a rock this year will be familiar with the developments concerning the controversial nature of Bill 74. A couple of months back we heard the news that there had been attempts to cut down on online gambling with the introduction of Bill 74 across the French province of Quebec. Though the bill was unceremoniously blocked by the Supreme Court because it was seen as a constitutional violation.
The basic crux of the bill was that it required ISPs to implement a blanket block on all unlicensed online gaming sites, i.e. any site that wasn’t being run by the province. The idea remains to create a list of some 2,000 banned websites and then prevent the 8 million or so residents from accessing these sites. There is even talk of fines as high as C$76,000 for those breaching the laws. However, with the money laundering allegations that have floated around the Canadian casino world of late, this bill might be a little much for people to swallow!
As you can imagine, there has been controversy surrounding the bill that has gone both ways. While those in favour claim that the bill is essential for cutting down in issues of problem gambling, and keeping money within the province, those opposed worry it is unconstitutional, and could well create a monopoly. Indeed, the bill would give Loto-Quebec absolute control over the gambling industry in Quebec.
Now, this is a story that has made its way into the news again in the last week or so because it seems that Quebec has not taken the decision well. In fact, it seems clear that the Quebec government will be appealing the court’s decision, hoping that it will be overturned and the bill will get passed.
The main drive behind The Court’s ruling is that they viewed the bill as being a way of preventing competitive gambling across the province by removing iGaming sites from availability. This seemed to be the drive behind the bill idea, as opposed to protecting against addiction, as Loto-Quebec had claimed. To be honest, it is likely The Court is right here, however, there would surely be a few positives to a monopoly in the province.
Yes, it would reduce or remove competition, but it might also result in reducing the risk of problem gambling. It would certainly see more money generated going straight to the province as opposed to being filtered to other sources. So, there is perhaps something to be said for this.
It’s clear that Quebec is attempting to ban all private gaming websites once again, and their appeal will probably signify the last chance they will have to be able to do this. There is still hope that the province may get its wish to block out other sites, but for now it will be interesting to see where this goes, and whether other provinces might try to get in on the action as well.