|Woodbine Entertainment has responded furiously to a challenge from the Ontario Racing Commission regarding the legality of its wagering platform, Hpibet.com, Canada’s first government-sanctioned online betting site. The website was launched last January following a change in Canadian gambling law which gave the green light to horse race betting by any telecommunication device, not just telephones.|
Now, in a development that could have major repercussions for the future of online betting in the country, the ORC has asked the Canadian Federal Court for a ruling on the legality of the site, questioning whether ministers ‘overstretched the law’ in declaring it legal.
Woodbine accused the ORC of hubris and arrogance, claiming that their site has regenerated interest in the sport, and has been thoroughly good for racing in general.
Nick Eaves, Woodbine’s senior vice president of marketing and business development, told the press: 'We're absolutely flabbergasted and, frankly, offended that the Ontario Racing Commission has filed the application in an area over which they don't have jurisdiction,' Eaves said. 'I mean their mandate is to do that which is in the best interest of Ontario racing. And essentially, what they're doing is being the instigator in an action which, if successful, would have the effect of discontinuing one of the only recent services in the Ontario racing business that's actually attracting new customers and really performing in a way that our customers have told us they want.'
The ORC’s application to the court stated: 'There is good reason to believe that the regulation is… invalid, The minister does not have authority to make by regulation a definition of the term ‘telephone’.'