NBA, MLS, CFL back Quebec online sports betting bid

The Quebec Online Gaming Coalition wants a new licensing regime for qualified private operators

The Quebec Online Gaming Coalition (CQJL) has gained high-level support in its quest to implement a new regulatory framework for Quebec online sports betting.

As reported by Le Soleil, the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Canadian Football League (CFL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) have all thrown their weight behind the Coalition’s bid to modernize the current system and allow for multiple private operators in the Canadian province.

Currently, Loto-Quebec is the only legal provider of online sports betting in Quebec, but a move to an Ontario-style licensing system could see the Quebec government receive at least $230m in royalties, according to the CQJL.

The Coalition was created earlier this year by eight operators, including DraftKings and Flutter, stating its intention “to address growing concerns about consumer safety, responsible gaming, advertising, and substantially increasing government revenues based on a new licensing regime for qualified private operators”.

Now, the CQJL has received a welcome boost with three of the biggest sports leagues in Canada and North America expressing their support for its demands.

“If the Quebec government were to create an open and regulated market, the NBA would support this structure, in the same way it supports Ontario’s competitive market,” said NBA spokesperson Mike Bass.

Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the CFL, said he joins other major leagues “in urging Quebec legislators to fully explore the benefits of introducing a regulated playing environment, one that does not operate in the shadows, but in full view of all, which protects the integrity of the competition and which encourages responsible gaming”.

This was a sentiment echoed by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who wants to see the province equip itself with a model allowing it to increase “fan engagement in a responsible manner, with the highest levels of integrity and strong partnerships”.

Loto-Quebec, meanwhile, is defiant in the face of these calls, with spokesperson Renaud Dugas remarking that the organizations that give them their support “should question themselves about the Coalition’s true intentions”.

According to Dugas, it is “peculiar” that this group promotes a regulatory framework, “while some of the signatories illegally offer games to Quebecers, thus contravening the Canadian Criminal Code.”

However, Nathalie Bergeron, spokesperson for the CQJL, is unwavering in her assertion that the Coalition is a force for good.

Bergeron said: “Do you know of many industries that are proactively asking a government to not only regulate them, but tax them?”

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