New Online Casino in PEI: the Public is Outraged!

February 5, 2021 |

The last 12 months have been a difficult time for industries struggling to cope with the lockdown enforced by Covid-19. Many businesses have ceased to exist due to travel restrictions preventing their customers from visiting their favourite establishments.  Others have had to think outside the box and reinvent themselves in order to continue their existence.

The gambling industry had not escaped troubles of its own, especially when the worldwide sport was put on hold while authorities tried to figure out how to contain the pandemic. The last six months have certainly improved, and it coincides with the opening of an online casino in New Brunswick that has raised a few eyebrows. 

ALC Open a New Online Casino

Casino tokens on a laptop

In August, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) went ahead with their plans to provide gamblers with another outlet to win big money on their favoured casino games. They did so with no fuss and no promotion hoping it would lead to no complaints. 

The reason for their quiet start-up may have been based on 10 years of constant rejection of their plans of getting an online casino up and running. 

Their venture soon raised concerns, especially as authorities on Prince Edward Island also gave the green light for their own online casino before the end of 2020.

Concerns over Lack of Consultation

The biggest fear from those against the idea focuses on the consultation process – or lack of it. The issue for those in the opposing corner was that the public had no say in the matter. 

ALC was permitted to proceed with their plan with the proviso that they ensure everything is done according to official guidelines.

A spokesperson for Prince Edward Island’s Finance department said that the purpose of the ACL was to ‘do all the studies needed to ensure provinces enter into new agreements in a safe and regulated way’.

Authorities Satisfied with Due Diligence

Chris Keevill CEO of ALC
Chris Keevill, CEO of ALC

The Finance department was happy with how the online casino was established. Chris Keevill, CEO of ALC, said he didn’t think the desire to involve the public was something his corporation needed to worry about. Instead, if the public were to be included in the process, then that came under the umbrella of the provinces’ authorities.

Earlier this week, a report found that two separate organizations carried out in-depth studies and found that the new online casino had ‘provided recommendations and best practices guiding the development of this product and related responsible gambling features.’ It also stated that shareholders were told that all relevant ‘reviews had been conducted’.

The studies concluded that there was nothing to suggest that new online casinos would have a negative effect on those gamblers considered vulnerable. Or that the issue was any more of a problem than anywhere else in the country where online gambling is at a person’s disposal.

Onus on Gambling Responsibly

The spotlight on gambling has never shone brighter. When done responsibly, gambling can offer thrills rarely experienced elsewhere.

However, it can become an addiction as the chase intensifies to make up for losing bets.

A request by those against the opening of new online casinos for a meeting with the public to make them aware of the potential pitfalls seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Those behind the venture feel it would be a waste of time given the efforts they have gone to before its launch.

More Online Casinos Could Open

Online casinos are a very profitable business with around $100 million spent on online gambling every year in the four Atlantic provinces – New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. 

Casino in New Brunswick
Re-opened casino in New Brunswick

The amount of money raised through online casinos depends on how much customers are allowed to spend. All online casinos have limits, and the New Brunswick casino that opened six months ago allows its customers to wager a maximum $100 per spin on their preferred slot games. That’s 40 times more than video lottery terminals located in the New Brunswick province.

The maximum amount to play blackjack on the new site may be $500. But the average amount spent per play is under $2.

Online casinos are nothing new. They can be a lucrative source of revenue for authorities, but they have to adhere to certain guidelines that are put in place to ensure every measure is taken to prevent the pastime becoming an addiction. 

The latest online casino in New Brunswick could be the first of many to open in the coming weeks and months as Covid restrictions keep us at home.