The Canadian province of Nova Scotia has launched an online casino after years of pushing by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. Finance Minister Allan MacMaster said the platform, which is accessed through the lottery corp’s website, went live Thursday.
As reported by CBC, MacMaster stated that there was no big announcement on the topic as they are "not trying to really promote it." "We just wanted to put it out there. It’s up and running now and it’s there for people who want to play," he explained.
MacMaster said the decision was made in recent days following months of discussion. Those talks included "extensive discussions" with his cabinet colleague Brian Comer, the minister responsible for addictions and mental health, and officials from Comer's office.
All in all, MacMaster admitted it became difficult to overlook how prevalent online gambling has become. "People are gaming on sites quite literally from just about anywhere in the world," he said.
Having a Nova Scotia-based operation means people in the province who want to gamble online have a safe and secure place to do so, said MacMaster. The website includes a link to so-called play-wise tools, which can allow a player to limit the amount of time and money they spend on the site
A Finance Department spokesperson said the provincial gaming corporation is projecting the website will generate CAD 10 million in its first year, but MacMaster said that was not the deciding factor in approving the platform.
"What really drove it was the fact that it's out there," he said. "It exists without us and if we have a presence, well at least maybe we can protect people and recoup some of the money that's leaving our province."
Nova Scotia is the second Atlantic province to launch an online casino. New Brunswick made the jump in 2020. It netted CAD 7.3 million during the first fiscal year in operation. Atlantic Lotto has been pushing for years to get the four provinces it covers onboard for online casinos.
The former Liberal government laid the groundwork for a launch in Nova Scotia last year when it passed an order in council that would permit an online casino in the province. MacMaster said it would be up to the government, in consultation with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, to monitor the website and how it is working. "We're just starting this so we'll certainly be open to what we're seeing and making changes accordingly," he commented.