Gambling operation shuttered

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It didn't take long for North America's only government-sanctioned online casino to crap out.

Just hours after launching its new, $7.3-million PlayNow.com site on July 15, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation closed down the gambling operation, citing a crush of demand on its servers. In fact, a technical problem had allowed some gamblers to gain access to the accounts of 134 other users and wager $8,000 of their money. In addition, the personal data of 12 players was viewed by others, including some digits in their credit card numbers.

In opening the casino, Rich Coleman, the province's housing and social development minister, had assured British Columbians that the site “employs the highest levels of integrity and security of any system in the world.”

The security glitch, which only came to light five days after the site was shut down, left the British Columbia government scrambling for explanations, while an independent consultant studied the problem. Coleman told journalists that “we will make sure that the third-party review is complete and that the information and privacy commissioner is satisfied with it.”

His boss, Premier Gordon Campbell, announced that the minister and the lottery corporation Coleman oversees still have his confidence, but the controversy had opposition critics calling for a separation of mandates. How, asked New Democratic Party parliamentarian Shane Simpson, can the same government that regulates gaming and promotes moderation run a casino?

Three weeks after the security breach, PlayNow.com remained offline.

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