The stage is set for a showdown in the high-stakes and controversial world of blocking access to websites offering otherwise legal content on the internet, writes Peter Menzies in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here.
By Peter Menzies, March 17, 2021
Freshly appointed Ontario gambling boss Birgitte Sand will have to play her cards right if she wants to keep the province from going bust at the regulatory blackjack table.
Sand, former head of the Danish Gambling Authority, has a history of protecting licensed companies from unlicensed offshore competition — which is exactly what the Ford government needs as, wisely, it moves to open the province’s online gambling business to private-sector competition. She was appointed earlier this month to flesh out Ontario’s plan to privatize online gambling, which also means licensing it, regulating it and — somehow — keeping the money earned by a booming industry inside the provincial cage.
That, in turn, sets the stage for a showdown in the high-stakes and controversial world of blocking access to websites offering otherwise legal content on the internet. Sand certainly has the skills required for that part of the job. Two years ago, she won a landmark case when a Copenhagen court upheld an order forcing Denmark’s internet companies to block access to 25 foreign-based gambling websites competing against the country’s approved providers. This is exactly the sort of thing Ontario will be looking to do.
“We use our authority to block websites on an ongoing basis,” Sand said following the March 25, 2019 ruling. “We do this to protect the operators who do have a license to offer gambling in Denmark. But we also do so to protect the players.” And, of course, the treasury.
Sand’s ability to replicate that success will be of immense interest to provincial governments hoping to secure their digital borders and the revenue they reap from gambling. Still others will be watching to see whether her influence might also lead to a change in Canadian behaviour when it comes to cracking down on pirated content. Danish internet companies now work collectively to voluntarily block websites once one of them is ordered by a court to do so — a disposition that, based on past behaviour, Canadian operators are disinclined to adopt.