British Columbia residents will soon get the chance to bet thousands of dollars each week on sports, online games and the lottery following a decision to expand a provincial gambling Website.
The British Columbia Lottery Corp. announced on Thursday its decision to raise the weekly limit on its gambling Website from C$120 (US$111) to nearly C$10,000 (US$92,500) by the year 2014.
The Website sells lottery tickets and allows bets on sports and on games such as bingo and poker.
British Columbia Lottery Corp. president Michael Graydon said research showed that players should be permitted to set their own limits.
"We felt that it was important to put a ceiling on that, but really the premise and the outcome of the research was we're in the best shape to be able to let the players set their own limits," he said.
"It gives them the opportunity, based on their own economics, to be able to set what they'd like to do."
Blackjack, roulette, poker and other games will be available from March 2010 on the corporation's PlayNow Website.
The move has been met with criticism from opposition politicians, with Shane Simpson of the New Democrat Party calling the decision "unacceptable."
"This has been done with no consultation, as I can see, with people who are concerned about problem gambling," he said.
But Graydon has defended the move, pointing out that it could now tap into the approximately C$87 million British Columbians spend on foreign gambling Websites, "rather than it all going offshore to places like Antigua."