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The province of Manitoba is looking to launch online gambling by 2013 in an effort to derive income from an industry which is dominated by privately run offshore providers. It will make it the fourth Canadian province after British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario to move at the opportunity of an additional provincial revenue stream.

Manitoba lotteries minister, Steve Ashton announced last week that they will be partnering with the already established British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). In its eight years since launching in 2004, BCLC has built its portfolio to include lotteries, slots, poker, bingo and various other games that now constitute a fully fledged online casino portfolio.

Revenues are expected to be in the region of $1.5 million in its first full year of operating, with this figure set to increase to $17 million annually from the second year on. 5% of the revenue generated in Manitoba will be channeled towards responsible gambling campaigns, while aboriginal sports and recreation programs will benefit from a 15% share of revenues.

With many Canadians flocking to a large base of offshore online casinos, Ashton pronounced that the move towards a governmental run operation will have the key objective of keeping cash flows inside the state. He does not foresee the move as one of expanding the gaming industry but rather as one which offers locals a local option.

With the partnership between Manitoba and BC, there will be a consolidation of skills and experience, this according to Rich Coleman, minister responsible for BCLC. The BCLC will be responsible for site design, development, testing and also the management of the Manitoba site. There are also likely to be economies of scale with this partnership and the capacity to leverage liquidity will be a positive factor in attracting local poker players.

With online gaming currently experiencing bullish growth and arguably set to continue on this growth curve for the medium to long term future, online gambling seems to be gaining greater provincial buy-in in Canada.