N.S. government still assessing possibility of online casino

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Atlantic Lotto launched an online casino for New Brunswick residents in August 2020. The Crown corporation had been pitching the four Atlantic provinces on the idea for a decade. (CBC - image credit)
Atlantic Lotto launched an online casino for New Brunswick residents in August 2020. The Crown corporation had been pitching the four Atlantic provinces on the idea for a decade. (CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia's finance minister says he's not made a final decision yet about whether the province will ante up for an online casino.

Allan MacMaster said the government's focus has been on health care and housing since being sworn in at the end of August and he needs more time to assess the proposal.

"We're a new government," he said in an interview at Province House. "We want to talk about these things."

Last February, the former Liberal government cleared the way for sanctioned online gambling in the province through the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. A similar website has already been set up in New Brunswick and the Crown corporation is looking to have sites in all four Atlantic provinces.

Gambling brings significant revenue to the province each year. Having a provincially operated website could be a new revenue source while also affording certain features that other gambling sites do not, said MacMaster.

"[Players are] not assured of payouts, God knows who they're gaming with on the internet and there's also no protections in place for people who may be going through a period where they are problem gaming," he said.

The lottery corporation has said player protections would be built into the website. But MacMaster also noted prevailing concerns about gambling in general.

"There's always been debate over if you're going to have gambling, if the government is going to be offering it, what are you going to do to help those who might fall into problem gambling situations and the impact it would have on not only them but their families."

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