Quebec Legislates to Block Unlicensed Gambling Sites

Published April 7, 2016 by Lee R

Quebec Legislates to Block Unlicensed Gambling Sites

The rationale of censoring content not approved by the government remains controversial.

Quebec is dropping the hammer, or block as the regulation case may be.

Limiting Access

Bill 74 currently under review with Quebec legislators seeks to limit resident access to unauthorised gambling websites, much to the consternation of the free internet crowd.  

The overarching principle under consideration would allow Quebec residents to only access websites that have previously met government approval, meaning the Quebec government is looking to take it upon themselves to decide what information and content their citizens can access.

Finance Minister's Protection

The Quebec Finance Minister defended the government's position, saying that the bill is protective in nature and seeks to protect residents from unscrupulous illegal gambling sites that prey on addiction and promote dishonest gambling practices. 

Opponent's Position

Opponents of Bill 74 are quick to point out that the bill's passage would render Quebec the first Canadian province to impose Internet censorship.  Further concern among opponents stems from the claim that Bill 74 conflicts with established telecommunications law as well as the Canadian hallmark of freedom of expression. Internet companies will team up with civil rights groups for this battle in the court of public opinion, as well as in any legal challenges should Bill 74 go through. 

Government's Position

The Quebec government claims that online gambling sites are taking revenues away from government-sponsored Lot-Quebec.  The benefits the government points out from blocking illegal providers is the prevention of young people from accessing gambling sites whose environments have not been secured by regulation along with increasing Quebec's lottery revenue, which should provide residents with a full range of secure gambling options once Bill 74 passes.

Alternative Rejected

An alternative suggested by those monitoring the situation would be for the Quebec government to stop short of censorship by requesting prominent electronic payment systems to cease the processing of transactions of unauthorised gambling websites.  Clearly, the government does not feel this is a forceful enough measure in the current climate. 

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