Canada's online betting space to heat up in 2004
By maddy
With the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency or CPMA (a unit of Agriculture Canada) in the process of making regulatory changes, the number of people expected to place bets on horses over the Internet will only increase say industry observers.

More websites are expected to crop up in the coming weeks. For instance, Woodbine Entertainment Group, a Toronto-based horse racing track operator, which launched the first legal Internet gambling site in Canada, hope to process $15 million worth of online bets through its wagering system in 2004. Woodbine takes in $1.5 billion in wagers annually and has annual sales of $390 million.

David Wilmot, Woodbine's CEO says, 'Internet-based betting helps to bring an end to an outdated means of distribution. We will eventually aggregate all Internet-based horse racing bets in Canada as 'most tracks' in the country already contract telephone account wagers to Woodbine.'

But few observers don't share the same enthusiasm as Wilmot. David Canton, a technology lawyer in London, Ont., who calls government Web casinos the “next logical step and just an extension of what’s happening already, offline. He adds that governments are unlikely to begin the widespread blessing of Web-based gambling sites overnight, as a plethora of barriers, including law enforcement and tax collection will make regulation of Internet-based gambling logistically difficult.

While telephone wagering on horse races has been legal in Canada since 1985, the online version still has gray areas, which need to be resolved. CPMA is reportedly, aware of more than two other horse race track operators in Canada with plans for similar online initiatives.

Bob McCreavy, a spokesperson for CPMA admits the entire gambling and gaming industry in Canada is government run or quasi-government run and advises bettors to steer away from unlicensed Web sites.

For now, while some forms of Internet gambling are a gray area in Canada and yet to receive clear regulations, Canadians love to bet as much as their North American counterparts.

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