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Canadians can now bet on single-game sports matches, but beware these fake fees

The OLG considers a bet made using a credit card to be a CASH transaction — even though the wager is facilitated via a plastic credit card and accommodated online.

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Recently, our fearless leaders deemed that it would NOT be immoral for the commoners residing in our great Dominion to place bets on single-game sports matches.

So it is that sports-betting Canadians are now being treated like… oh, you know, adults. We can now FINALLY make wagers on ONE game as opposed to amassing a parlay of multiple games. (It was always inexplicable to me why such an idiotic law was on the books preventing single-game betting – a useless mandate that was easily circumvented by those Canadians who were dispatching hundreds of millions of dollars annually to offshore betting websites.)

In any event, I decided to try Proline+, facilitated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. I put a few quid on a Ticats/Argonauts game (the Argos being the Argos, I lost, of course.) But I’m not crying over spilt field goals.

Rather, the story is this: when my TD Visa statement arrived, I noticed two little charges that were downright inexplicable.

First, I was dinged for a Cash Advance Fee of $3.50. This was odd. I have never ever ever used my credit card for a cash advance… simply because I don’t want to incur fees for cash advances.

And there was another baffling line item: namely, $1.14 in Interest. That made no sense either. I pay off my entire credit card balance every month… precisely to avoid interest charges.

What’s going on here?

Well, I called my credit card provider and here’s what I was told: the OLG considers a bet made using a credit card to be a CASH transaction — even though the wager is facilitated via a plastic credit card and accommodated online. In other words, no cash ever changes hands.

Oh, and the $1.14 interest was interest charged on the non-existent cash advance!

What the hell?

So, I reached out to the OLG to get their side of the story and spokesman Tony Bitonti stated the fees were being levied not by the OLG, but rather, by the financial institutions.

I then reached out several times to the media relations department of Visa Canada. Nobody ever got back to me. I then repeatedly reached out to the media relations department of TD Canada Trust. Again, radio silence. I then called the TD Visa customer service line again, this time recording the call. And Christina (no surname provided) again reiterated that the extra charges are the OLG’s doing, not the financial institution or the credit card company. Before she hung up, she also delivered a brief lecture stating that she thinks credit cards should not be used for gambling. (Golly, I wonder what her morality policy is when it comes to using credit cards to purchase liquor, tobacco, cannabis, and adult magazines?)

Bottom line: a fee of $4.64 may seem like no big deal. But over the months and years ahead, all those cash advance fees plus interest fees will add up to big money indeed. It’s a scam. And that’s why I shall continue to make my future sports bets at the UK-operated Bet365.com, a portal where I’ve never been dinged for additional fees.

Postscript: I’m not going to let this issue rest. I plan to reach out to the OLG’s ministerial masters and see what they have to say. Because currently, as they say in Vegas, “the fix is in.” And that should NOT be the case when the OLG has a state-sanctioned gambling monopoly based on the laughable proviso of “social responsibility.”

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