Canada was known to be extremely friendly to the online poker industry and many US players crossed the border after the infamous Black Friday and made Canada their base of operations while they made a living playing online poker. The online poker industry in Canada has thrived during the past few years and has also resulted in the rise of a number of illegal poker websites.
These illegal poker websites tend to attract a lot of online poker players who are willing to take the risks of gambling on an unlicensed poker website because they are assured of making more money and paying less taxes. As a result, these illegal poker websites have been eating into the revenue that province-run Loto-Quebec corporation derives.
As a result, the Quebec government has decided to crackdown on these illegal poker websites and block them from operating in Quebec. The government had earlier put forward the proposal of blocking illegal poker websites and had received a lot of criticism from various groups who stated that such a policy would be hard to implement and would border on the lines of being illegal. However, the government has decided to ignore such feedback and move ahead with its plan of banning illegal poker websites.
Quebec plans to ask all internet service providers to make a note of blacklisted online poker and gambling websites and then put in necessary measures to prevent their access. The government believes that such a move would result in enormous savings for the Loto-Quebec corporation. Initial estimates done by analysts suggest that a moving banning illegal poker websites could save around $13.5 million during 2016-2017 and around $27 million in the years to come.
Michael Greist, internet law professor at the University of Ottawa criticized the new proposal. In a blog post, he wrote
To legislate blocking for commercial gain sets a dangerous Canadian precedent. Once blocking gaming and gambling sites is established, it is easy to envision the government requiring blocking of sites that are alleged to infringe copyright or blocking e-commerce sites that are not bilingual or do not pay provincial taxes.
The open Internet in Canada would be placed at risk of unprecedented government intervention into how Internet providers manage their networks and what sites Canadians are able to access.
Louise Nadeau, a professor at the University of Montreal also said the feasibility of ensuring all illegal poker websites get banned is not very convincing. It remains to be seen how effective the new policy will turn out to be and if it does bring in the estimated amount of savings to the Loto-Quebec corporation.