By now, most of us have heard of the problem British Columbia had with their online casino. On July 15, the Canadian province launched a casino on their Lottery Corporation’s PlayNow.com website and it was only up for a few hours before the British Columbia shut it down.
The problem was a glitch in the software that triggered a security breach, one that caused some players to be logged onto the accounts of other players, giving them access to sensitive information. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation originally said that the online casino was down because of too much traffic to the website, but later admitted to the security issue.
Once the problem was learned and it was revealed that some players wagered with someone else’s money and won or lost with that money, the BCLC assured everyone that the money would be attributed to the correct person. But who is that? If Person A wagers $10 of Person B’s money and then wins $100, surely $10 of that still belongs to Person B, but what about the other $90? I’m not sure.
Now another problem has come up. At least one player has reported that the online casino lost his money. Mike Reid, a retired banker, says that he won a few hundred dollars at blackjack on the PlayNow.com site and then transferred $100 of the winnings to his bank account. After the website was shut down due to the security breach, Reid checked his bank account and found that the $100 wasn’t there. When he contacted the Lottery Corporation, they said that the money was basically in limbo and that all transactions would go through once the online casino re-launches, whenever that may be.
But how could they have taken the money from his personal bank account? And why would they do that? After making an issue out of it, Reid eventually received a $100 check from the Lottery Corporation, but that is of little reassurance to other players. Does the BCLC think it’s okay to take money out of your personal bank account?
The more time passes since the launch of North America’s first online casino, the more unpleasant the questions get. This is a reason that, while I support legalizing online gambling in jurisdictions where it is banned, I am not in favor of governments running the online casinos. I certainly can’t recommend that blackjack players go to PlayNow.com once it reopens. I’d rather point people toward InterCasino or Pure Vegas, which are much safer options.