Lottery exec. confirms ban on Olympic betting may push punters online


2010 Winter Olympics betting bans will drive gamblers to seek their action elsewhere

2010's Winter Olympics plans for Vancouver in the British Columbia province of Canada include a ban on betting on ice hockey, but a lottery executive says that this will merely direct punters to betting sites on the Internet and outside the reach of Canadian authorities.

B.C. Lottery Corporation vice-president of corporate affairs Kevin Gass told 24hrs.ca: 'There's nothing we can do about that. Those sites operate, there's over 2 000 casino and sporting bet sites in the world.'

BCLC has the federally granted monopoly on legal gambling in the Olympic province. But the BCLC's six-year sponsorship deal with VANOC (the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games) prohibits it from taking bets on Olympic events via SportsAction retailers and the PlayNow website.

VANOC deputy CEO Dave Cobb said the committee acted on its own to include the ban in the contract.

'(The decision) was ours,' said Cobb. 'I would expect that if it wasn't there, the IOC probably would have raised it.'

Gass said SportsAction grosses $40 million annually and hockey is 'a mainstay of our SportsAction menu.' He estimated BCLC would miss out on 'several hundred thousands of dollars,' but the deal with VANOC through 2012 is more valuable in the long run.

In August, BCLC increased weekly online betting limits from $120 to $9 999 in a bid to stem the flow of revenue to websites in foreign countries and the Montreal-area Kahnawake Mohawk reserve, which as a sovereign nation licenses and hosts online gambling websites.

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