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Quebec Moves Forward with Its Plan to Block Unlicensed Gambling Websites
- November 16, 2015 By Oliver Young -
Quebec, a province in Canada, is moving forward with its plan to block unlicensed online gambling operators. The move is considered a censorship of the Internet according to critics.
As reported in the news outlet the Globe and Mail a week ago, the Finance Minister in Quebec, Carlos Leitao, tabled legislation to implement the provincial budget. The budget, which was announced in March 2015, includes changes to the local Consumer Protection Act ordering online service providers to block unauthorized gambling sites. Those who will not comply with the rules will be fined $100,000 or $200,000 for the offences. A site that is unauthorized is the one that it not approved by Loto-Quebec.
The move is expected to rise up the revenues of the government’s website Espacejeux. Government officials hope that this will bring an extra $13.5 million in online gambling revenues for the period between 2016 and 2017.
Censorship of the Web
Critics believe that the move censors the Internet. In particular, the chairman of the Internet Society Canadian chapter, Timothy Denton, believes that this is dangerous and precedents for censorship of the web mainly because Quebec doesn’t have the necessary body to regulate the web in this manner.
“It is censorship,” Denton told the Globe and Mail. “The move blocks access to legally available websites in the interest of promoting one’s gambling monopoly.” He said that many other countries are trying to do it, but are not called “liberal democracies.”
In his opinion, the government’s plan is expensive, futile and a bad precedent for censorship. According to the report in the news outlet, Denton has already sent a letter to Leitao in August 2015 to protest the move, but he has yet to get a response back. In the letter he argued that ISPs would find it costly to implement it and the move could drive smaller ISPs out of business. Also it could raise the prices on the web and this would most likely contravene the government’s authority over telecommunications.
Earlier in July, the president and chief executive officer of CIRA Byron Holland also wrote an article saying that it is not wise for the Quebec government to start blocking unauthorized gambling websites.
Players Can Still Access Blocked Gambling Sites
However, despite the blocking measures, Canadian players can still find ways to go around the planned blockage. For example, there is the VPN, virtual private network, many Canadian people are using to watch content that is unavailable in Canada, Denton added. Moreover, players can change their domain name system and still be able to access blocked gambling websites. Nevertheless, Denton admits that online gambling can be a huge problem for some players. Still he pointed out that iGaming is not illegal in Canada and he is not trying to prevent it.
The move has already received many criticisms especially since it will give online gambling licenses to certain casino operators and betting sites. This is seen as a gift to Amaya Gaming, based in Montreal, a company with whom Loto-Quebec has a commercial partnership.
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