Government Involvement in The Internet Gambling

Regionally, some interesting variations also occur. Ontario, which restricts play but not entrance to bingo halls, is the region most in favour of this particular restriction, with 78% strongly agreeing (88% overall). This is somewhat in contrast with Ontario respondentsÕ generally tolerant approach to gambling. In contrast, only 61% of Quebec respondents strongly agree (79% overall) with the restriction.

The issue of Internet gambling has received a great deal of attention as a possible emerging problem for both gamblers and governments. Gamblers are said to be more likely to become ÒaddictedÓ to Internet-based gambling because of the easy access to gambling within their home, and young gamblers are particularly sensitive because of the degree to which they have embraced Internet technology.

Governments are concerned with the regulatory aspect of Internet gambling for a number of reasons. First, although Internet gambling and operating an Internet gambling site are technically illegal activities, the law is practically unenforceable, particularly in reference to the home gambler. Second, governments might lose revenue to Internet gambling as it cannibalizes other legal forms of gambling. Third, governments are expected to cover the negative social costs associated with Internet gambling problems while off-shore interests benefit.

Survey results indicate that Internet gambling is not popular in Canada. Of the 19 types of gambling respondents were asked about, Internet gambling is the least popular by a significant margin. Only 0.5% had tried Internet gambling in the past year and only one respondent out of 2,202 indicated he regularly gambled over the Internet. Although Internet gambling might be an issue to watch for, the need to regulate the games appears less urgent.

For a glimpse into the future of Internet gambling, the survey asked those respondents who gamble (n=1,295) to indicate the primary reason they had not tried this form of gambling. The results reveal the potential for the growth of on-line gambling (see Figure 15). Only 8% of respondents feel that the games are not safe or that the technology is a barrier. Rather, the primary reasons for respondents indicating they have not gambled on the Internet is their lack of access (42%), or a lack of interest (37%). This tacit acceptance of Internet gambling as a legitimate means of wagering suggests that as more people gain access to the Internet in their homes, the popularity of Internet gambling will grow. Interestingly, not one respondent indicated that the illegality of Internet gambling is a primary barrier to play.

No Computer/No Internet – 42%
No Interest/No Appeal – 37%
Not Safe/ Don’t Use Credit Cards – 3% Don’t Trust Internet/Games are Rigged – 12%
Don’t know what it is – 5%