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Ontario tries to keep gaming cash at home

Ontario has dealt its hand and hopes to hit the jackpot by offering its own online gambling.

Canada's most populous province plans a "safer and more regulated" Internet gambling option after watching millions of dollars leave the country annually to offshore gaming sites.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said provincial residents are spending about $400 million a year gambling on these other sites.

"People enjoy gaming," Duncan said as he announced the scheme to be in effect in early 2012. It will include age and identity verification provisions.

Paul Godfrey, head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., said the agency "needs to be current and to evolve with the changing needs of our customers."

A full range of poker and casino-style games is being developed, along with online lottery ticket sales.

British Columbia's move into online gambling is on hold over privacy breaches that let some people bet with others' money and exposed personal information. Canada's Atlantic provinces are also reviewing options on venturing into the business.

Names in the news

• Mario Lague, director of communications for the Liberal Party, was killed when his motorcycle collided with an SUV at an Ottawa intersection. Lague, who was 52 and married with two children, was a top aide to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. "A man of great integrity and spirit, Mario served his country in many capacities with honor and dignity," Ignatieff said.

• Member of Parliament Helena Guergis, 41, who was expelled from the Conservative caucus over potential conflicts of interest, was under observation in an Alliston, Ontario, hospital after a car crash. Guergis, who is five months pregnant, was heading to a government announcement at Canadian Forces Base Borden when the car she was in was hit.

• Munir Sheikh, who in protest quit his job as head of Statistics Canada, has been hired by Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, where he will be a professor of political studies. Sheikh quit as Canada's chief statistician last month after opposing the government's plan to allow people to opt out of completing a previously mandatory expanded census form.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar drifted lower Friday to 96.51 cents U.S., while the U.S. dollar returned $1.0416 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is steady at 0.75 percent, while the prime lending rate is 2.75 percent.

Canadian stock markets were lower on Friday, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,525 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,457 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 10, 12, 20, 26, 27; bonus 47. (Aug. 7) 10, 14, 18, 41, 42, 47; bonus 16. Lotto Max: (Aug. 6) 1, 5, 6, 32, 36, 38, 44; bonus 29.

Regional briefs

• An ice floe four times the size of Manhattan has broken off Greenland's Petermann Glacier and is floating toward Canada. It's the biggest chunk to break away in 40 years and is headed toward the Nares Strait. Within a year or two, it should be off the east coast of Canada where it should break into smaller pieces.

• Alberta has a pile of cash on hold — millions of dollars in uncashed checks, utility deposits and unclaimed refunds. The cash keeps piling up and much of it belongs to deceased people whose kin could claim it (at missingmoney.com), the government said. The province is also holding a large amount of artwork, jewelry and furniture left from estates.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Ontario tries to keep gaming cash at home 08/14/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 14, 2010 6:58pm]
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