Nova Scotia

Online gambling in Nova Scotia focus of $100K in research

The Nova Scotia government is spending $100,000 to carry out research to better understand online gambling and whether it is a serious problem in the province.

A research firm is carrying out up to 10,000 telephone surveys as part of the project

Online gambling habits are being examined as the province considers what to do about problem gamblers. (CP)

The Nova Scotia government is spending $100,000 to carry out research to better understand online gambling and whether it is a serious problem in the province.

The Department of Health and Wellness is collaborating with the Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation on the project.

The research itself is being carried out by MQO Research, which is conducting telephone surveys looking for Nova Scotians willing to go into detail about their online gambling habits.

Bob MacKinnon, president of the lotteries and casino corporation, said as many as 10,000 surveys may be needed to complete the work.

He said the work will help the province better understand whether online gambling is a serious problem in Nova Scotia by looking at things such as the behaviour of players, the games they play and how much money they spend.

How do you regulate internet gambling?

MacKinnon said the research would help the province better regulate internet gambling, but it wasn't clear how this would be achieved.

"The challenge is, you can't regulate the internet, but what the province might look at doing is what measures need to be in place to make sure that the population of Nova Scotia has got some measures to get some more information about internet gambling, if it is needed," he said.

Michel Samson, the minister responsible for the lotteries and casino corporation, is also vague about what power the province has to regulate online gambling.

"Until we get the data and a better understanding of exactly how many Nova Scotians are actually participating in this, that will give our provincial lottery commission and Atlantic Lottery a better sense of exactly how many [people] are participating, how much of a concern this should be and what next steps should be taken," he said.

The hope is that the work can be completed by the end of December, with the analysis of the data being completed within six months after that.