|The Canadian Federal Justice Department is investigating Woodbine Entertainment Group's new Internet betting site in the face of calls by its critics for it to be closed down. |
According to Canada’s Criminal Code, only the provincial governments are allowed to run Internet gambling, although none have done so yet.
Justice Department spokesman Sylvain Beaudry confirmed Friday that the Woodbine group’s site - HorsePlayer Interactive – launched last month without any changes to the Criminal Code.
Beaudry said the department is investigating.
'We've gotten letters in the department on this issue, and we're looking at it.'
Beaudry said he couldn't comment further until more is known, likely in a few weeks.
Gambling critic Sol Boxenbaum says the Woodbine site should be shut down.
'They've decided that they're interpreting the law to define the telephone and the computer as being the same thing.'
'Let them convince the minister of Justice and have the Criminal Code amended...'
Unlike provincially run casinos and lotteries, horse-racing is regulated by the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency under the federal Agriculture Department.
The agency argues that telephone betting has legal for years, and that its regulations were amended last year to allow betting via 'any telecommunication device.'
Regulations were changed to keep pace with technological advances, said Bob McReavy, Ontario manager for the agency.
'Years ago you actually phoned to a person' to place a bet at the track, he said in an interview.
'Then you were able to punch over the keypad of a telephone. And now you can punch in over the keypad of a computer.'
The system bars players under the age of 19 by requiring proof of age and residency, said McReavy. Money must also be deposited up front to open an account and place bets, he said.