"Vice Minister" Coleman wants more sports betting

Rich Coleman wants single-event sports wagering in British Columbia.

The so-called “3-B” Vice Minister, whose portfolio includes booze, betting and a bordello (yes, read about it here), wrote in April 2010 on behalf of the B.C. Lottery Corporation to Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, supporting a proposed amendment to the Criminal Code to allow single-event wagering.

Windsor, Ont., NDP Member of Parliament Joe Comartin’s private member’s bill is expected to soon become law with the support of the Conservative majority in the House of Commons and Senate. B.C. is planning a major relaunch of its SportsAction and PlayNow products this summer after hiring Irish sports betting giant Paddy Power.

“Provincial lottery corporations and Canadian casinos cannot compete for the potential Canadian sports betting,” wrote Coleman. “Without the ability to offer the types of bets prohibited by the Code, lawful gaming offerings in Canada cannot compete with online gaming offered from outside Canada or Nevada tourist destinations like Las Vegas.”

Coleman argued for a “level playing field” for lawful entities to compete with the plethora of online gambling entities that take an estimated $2 billion in bets a year. He said legalized, single-event sports gambling would “bring higher standards in responsible gambling, player protection, fairness, integrity and security to this aspect of the gaming industry as well as offer a lawful alternative to Canadian sports bettors.”

“Moreover, legalizing single event betting would allow in depth and current reporting to regulators facilitating the response to suspicious activity. This would provide a much more effective way to detect and prevent attempts to ‘fix’ sporting events.”

The text of the Coleman letter is in an Oct. 11, 2011 briefing note to Justice Minister Shirley Bond, whose portfolio included gambling until Coleman regained the responsibility on Feb. 8, 2012.

It is not known how much revenue this would bring provincial coffers, though it is likely to lead to problems. B.C. has enough problem gamblers to fill B.C. Place Stadium almost three times. Sports gambling on the Internet was pinpointed as a gateway to trouble for teenage males, according to the B.C. Problem Gambling Prevalence Study of 2008.

Five other gambling-related ministerial briefing notes are contained in the Freedom of Information documents obtained by me.

Lottery Retailer Undercover Investigation
Jan. 18, 2012 (updated Jan. 19, 2012)
“(Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch) Investigations and Regional Operations Division has been carrying out an undercover investigation into lottery retailer theft of winning lottery tickets across the province.”

Vernon Casino Patron Robbery
Dec. 2, 2011
“At 8:23 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2011, a female patron was mugged at the Vernon Lake City Casino. A male suspect stole the victim’s purse and knocked her to the casino floor. The suspect then fled out an emergency door which triggered a silent alarm.”

Lottery Retailer Undercover Investigation
Jan. 17, 2012
“GPEB’s Investigations and Regional Operations Division has just concluded a provincewide undercover investigation into lottery retailer theft of winning lottery tickets. On Wed. Jan. 18, 2012, GPEB investigators will interview four individuals in connection with these findings.”

DRAFT: Hastings Racetrack Horse Deaths
Dec. 7, 2011
“(GPEB) has received a request for “Veterinary medical reports and/or autopsies regarding all equine fatalities recorded at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver… The response package contains 20 post-mortem, final reports from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Animal Health Centre.”

Harness Racing BC Concerns: 2012 Racing Season and Financial Allocations
Sept. 12, 2011 (Updated Dec. 2, 2011)
“On Aug. 29, 2011, Harness Racing BC (HRBC) CEO Doug McCallum wrote to the BC Horse Racing Management Committee, advising that HRBC had voted to reject racing dates the committee recently added to the standardbred schedule for six months in 2012. The tone of the letter suggests HRBC may approach the media with their concerns.”

B.C. Government gambling issues notes

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