BCLC Online Slots Break Their Own Rules
According to BC gambling laws, new online slots games need to be evaluated and approved before being available to the public for play. In BC, the official body responsible for licensing and approving new online casino games is the British Columbia Lottery Crop (which you’ll know as BCLC). The BCLC has its own official protocols that any new slots game must meet before being approved. The ironic thing is that it’s become known now that the BCLC has released games that don’t seem to meet their own requirements, yet have been approved for public play.
The Canadian press got hold of information that leads them to believe that PlayNow.com has been offering a number of games that although were approved by the BCLC, don’t meet the protocols and perhaps were approved without going through the legal compulsory assessment. The main factor tested by the assessment is the effect of a game on people who are considered problem gamblers.
The PlayNow.com website is of course owned by the BCLC and is its fastest growing asset. There’s no doubt that PlayNow.com is a major source of revenue for the BCLC which is more than enough motivation for a corporation to manipulate the laws so that it can further its profits. This points towards a major flaw in the way things are currently set up. How can a government-tied body also be a profit-seeking corporation? If the BCLC has the power to judge games and approve or block them, then surely its judgment can be blurred by interests surrounding revenue. It’s a situation that can never be stable since as a regulating body it’s required to operate responsibly while on the other hand, it’s in a fight to improve its numbers.
The press’ poking around led to the BCLC releasing some internal reports that showed that its own audit branch had already been complaining about problems in the approval process of certain online slot games. In March of this year, the audit branch specifically mentioned that assessments that related to social responsibility had not been properly processed.
In an internal dialog at BCLC, the department of game assessments stated that the lack of proper assessment procedure “could lead to initiatives contradictory with community societal accountability objectives, and could result in observations by the public that are negative toward the BCLC.”
Is the BCLC in the Doghouse?
By failing to meet the official protocols, BCLC is in fact in violation with policies put forward by BC Gaming as well as regulatory advertising standards. So yes, this does look problematic for the BCLC. On the other hand, corporations have gotten out of worse. The official spokesperson at BCLC, Angela Koulyras, claimed that the online slots games in question were assessed and approved as part of a review process. She did admit that the proposals lacked critical information but went on to explain that the errors had been dealt with. Koulyras also acknowledged that PlayNow.com’s Facebook fan page also failed to follow one of the requirements of the protocol in that it didn’t display any of the responsible gaming messaging, as is required in such cases.
BCLC also took some positive turns this month. An official announcement was released making public a partnership with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. The partnership will see the BCLC offer an online version of the Vancouver Canucks’ extremely popular 50/50 raffle draw. The draw will be available via BCLC’s PlayNow website. This is a somewhat unique move by a lottery corporation like BCLC who will be looking for ways to increase the number of people buying tickets of this type.
Although the fact that the BCLC itself has been under question can seem worrying, it’s also good to see that these things eventually come into the spotlight and can be dealt with. Hopefully there will be an improvement in the future with regards to regulating online slots games, and other types of online betting, in Canada.