The P.E.I. government is confirming it did sign a memorandum of understanding with a company that proposed to establish a financial services hub in the province, but says this had nothing to do with online gaming.
Last week, Finance Minister Wes Sheridan publicly stated the province did not sign any agreements related to a plan explored by government to enter into the world of online gaming regulation.
That plan aimed to establish a system based in P.E.I. to regulate online gaming across the country, allowing the province to collect millions in tax and licensing revenues.
On Wednesday, Innovation Minister Allen Roach confirmed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) was in fact signed by his department, but says this agreement was not related to online gaming.
“In July of 2012, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by my department with a company called Trinity Bay Technology (sic). It had nothing to do with online gaming – and revolved around that company's proposal to establish a financial services hub in the province,” Roach said in an emailed statement to The Guardian.
But a September 2011 report prepared by the U.K. based firm Simplex shows the province hoped to use the financial services technology proposed by Trinity Bay Technologies as a platform to support online gaming regulation in P.E.I.
“The government of Prince Edward Island has committed to create a Global Transaction Platform (GTP) in order to both generate income and create jobs,” the report’s executive summary says.
“Phase one of the GTP will be the creation of a regulatory regime and supporting technology platform for eGaming to be based on the Island in order to generate tax income from a portion of the U.S. $30 billions revenue from eGaming globally.”
The report says the lack of a robust regulatory regime in the online gaming industry means provinces are not benefitting from hundreds of thousands of E-gaming accounts currently held by Canadians.
Simplex suggests Prince Edward Island could make upwards of $85 million per year in tax and licensing revenues from Canadian gamers alone.
The document, entitled Simplex Global Transaction Platform Report, states on the front and inside pages it was prepared for the Prince Edward Island government.
But Sheridan says it was the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. that commissioned the report.
Last week Sheridan also said the province didn't pay for this report and he hadn't even seen it.
Government did establish a committee that included Premier Robert Ghiz's former chief of staff, Chris LeClair, and a representative from the Mi'kmaq Confederacy.
Sheridan says this committee hasn't done any work on the file in about a year and while there were talks with other provinces, they didn't amount to anything.
“The arrangement to examine online gaming was led by MCPEI,” Sheridan said in an email to The Guardian Wednesday.
“Again, there has been no work relative to online gaming since early 2012.”
But Paul Maines, vice president of business development for Trinity Bay Technologies, says he firmly believes Sheridan did read this report and that it was not the Mi'kmaq Confederacy, but him (Maines) who recommended Simplex to the gaming committee.
The P.E.I. Securities Commission has since filed to force Maines, Trinity Bay Technologies and several other affiliated companies to stop trading securities.
The specific allegations against Maines have not been made public.
(With files from The Guardian's Ryan Ross.)