The minister responsible for lotteries in the Canadian province of Manitoba, Steve Ashton, has announced plans to partner with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation in order to bring regulated online gaming to the western province in hopes of earning up to $17 million a year by 2018.
According to a report from the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper, the plan would see five percent of the new site’s net income go towards funding responsible gaming initiatives while a further 15 percent is to be earmarked for expanding provincial aboriginal sport and recreation programmes.
The newspaper reported that the Manitoba Lotteries Corporation has been investigating the possibility of operating an online gambling site for the past three years and revealed that the province of 1.2 million inhabitants normally spends two percent of the revenues earned from the Manitoba Lottery on treatment programmes for problem gamblers.
“We don't view this as an expansion of gaming,” Ashton told the paper.
“People are gaming online as we speak. The difference with this is they'll have a regulated Manitoba option. It will have all the security features and the money will stay here in the province.
Manitoba is struggling with a budget deficit estimated at $1.1 billion and Ashton stated that the province lost around $37 million last year as its citizens gambled on one or more of over 2,000 offshore online gambling sites.
“Quite frankly, I think most Manitobans would say it makes sense to keep as much of the gaming revenue here with a regulated site where it's going to benefit Manitobans [rather] than going offshore to sites where who knows who benefits,” said Ashton.