The government of Nova Scotia has quietly moved forward with plans to have the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) offer online casino games in the province.
ALC’s online casino launched Thursday, according to Finance Minister Allan MacMaster. The gaming site currently offers jackpots, slots, table games, and video poker.
Nova Scotia is the second province to authorize the ALC to offer casino games. New Brunswick was the first to allow them in August 2020.
The ALC is an interprovincial lottery jointly owned by government entities in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island (PEI). Specifically, the New Brunswick Lotteries and Gaming Corporation, the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation (NSGC), the PEI Lotteries Commission, and the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador are shareholders in ALC.
The NSGC will operate the online casino. The province’s Finance Ministry will provide regulatory oversight.
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Province Wants to Protect Consumers
MacMaster told the CBC in an interview that the Progressive Conservative (PC) government didn’t want to draw too much attention to the launch of online casino gaming in the province. The decision to have a quiet launch followed months of discussions with other members of the cabinet of Premier Tim Houston.
“People are gaming on sites quite literally from just about anywhere in the world,” MacMaster told the CBC. “There’s no guarantee of payouts, and there’s very little in the way of protections for people who may become addicted to [the games] and have other problems with them.”
In a separate interview, Bob MacKinnon, CEO of NSGC, said that the agency did not advertise the launch and wasn’t trying to promote the platform.
“There are 2,000 online gaming companies, and none of them except us pay taxes in Nova Scotia or redirect their profits back into the province and programs that support our citizens,” MacKinnon told CJLS-FM in Yarmouth.
Multiple Reasons for Delays
The spread of online casino gaming and sports betting has been slow in the Canadian Maritimes, which includes New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and PEI. The provinces are socially conservative, and many residents take a dim view of gambling.
In Nova Scotia, the last big gaming news came in February. That’s when the ALC was authorized to expand its Pro-Line sports betting platform in Nova Scotia to include single-event wagers.
But Nova Scotia was late to the party with that offering, too. Players in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and PEI had been making single-event wagers on Pro-Line since they were first available in August 2021 — the same month new federal laws governing such bets took effect.
In a twist, a spirit of bipartisanship between two of Nova Scotia’s political parties may have caused a delay in launching online casino gaming and single-event sports wagering in the province.
In August 2021, the same day the new federal gaming laws took effect, Liberal Premier Iain Rankin headed the provincial government in Nova Scotia. With elections scheduled that month, the Liberals decided to let the next government decide on whether to allow single-event wagering in the province ultimately.
The Liberals lost the election, and the PC took over. That October, MacMaster told the CBC that the new government was considering allowing online casinos — an idea first considered by the preceding Liberal government.