Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia government clears way for online casino games

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation launched a site specifically for New Brunswick last summer, with intentions of expanding to the other Atlantic provinces subject to sign-off from the respective governments. Nova Scotia did so on Friday.

Atlantic Lottery Corporation wants to expand sites to all four provinces

Virtual casino-style games could be offered to Nova Scotians by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation as soon as this spring. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's sanctioned online casino could launch this spring.

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation launched a website specifically for New Brunswick last summer, with intentions of expanding to the other Atlantic provinces subject to sign-off from the respective governments.

The sign-off from Nova Scotia was announced Friday in the form of an order in council.

According to a spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, costs incurred to develop "online casino-style games" will be shared by the provinces that offer the service.

"Currently, it is estimated that Nova Scotia's cost will be $3.1 million," Jillian Moore said in an email.

The decision has raised eyebrows of anti-gambling advocates because the site in New Brunswick allows people to bet up to $500 on a single hand of blackjack or up to $100 on a single pull of a virtual slot machine. Advocates say they're concerned that could create problems for people playing from their homes.

Gambling awareness organization dissolved

Officials with ALC have said the move is necessary to try to counteract the growing popularity of people gambling on websites with no ties to the Atlantic provinces. Although they've estimated that as much as $100 million leaves Atlantic Canada through offshore websites, ALC officials have not said how they calculated that figure.

Nova Scotia government officials have said they believe the system the ALC is pursuing can be done safely and that the province has resources to help people with gambling problems.

Last year the provincial government dissolved Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia, a non-profit arm's-length government organization, without any public notice.

A government spokesperson said funding that was previously dedicated to Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia is being rolled into the overall budget for mental health and addictions.

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