Will Canada Legalize Online Gambling Before The U.S.

The new American gambling resolutions have been pushed back once again, and the deadline for implementing the UIGEA is drawing ever closer. Many American online gambling advocates thought that 2010 would be the year that the U.S. finally rescinded the UIGEA and legalize regulated online gambling. Lately, American gambling industry insiders, operators, and fans are sounding a lot less optimistic, and now it looks like their neighbors to the north may get the job done before the U.S. government does.

The Canadian Gaming Summit is in Calgary, Canada this week and the online gambling industry’s leading officials have all gathered to talk about making Canadian online casinos a reality. While online gambling itself is not illegal in Canada – either explicitly or implicitly as it is in the U.S. – operating online gambling establishments inside the country is. Since online gambling is a $1 billion industry in Canada, even without Canadian sites, it’s easy to see how opening the door to native operators could be profitable for the country and some of its tech companies.

The Canadian government currently has a laissez-faire policy toward offshore operators that does little to protect Canadian players. The Interactive Gaming Council, whose president is the lead speaker at the Summit this week, would like to see the government get more proactive about online gambling by attaching new regulations to any Canadian operating licenses. While profit potential is of course a driving factor, many Canadians believe that legalizing native operators would also offer security benefits to the large number of citizens that already play online.

Proponents of online casino licensing in Canada believe that the existing population of gambling citizens will be more likely to play at sites that they know are licensed and regulated by the Canadian government and that the government can do more to fight the growing gambling addiction problem if it approaches it from the source.

Under the country’s current online gambling policy – or lack thereof – Canadian citizens are free to play what they like, where they like, and when they like. The government has absolutely no involvement in the industry, regardless of how its citizens are affected. That means that Canadian players that choose a less than reputable casino and suffer from identity theft can expect no legal recourse via the Canadian government. It’s a gamble at your own risk, but many citizens feel that it’s time for their country not only to claim its share of the revenue but to protect the growing contingent of online Canadian gamblers.