Loto-Quebec has withdrawn its proposal to launch a ‘mini casino’ in downtown Montreal, citing Montreal Public Health’s verdict as a significant factor in its decision.
The provincial gaming authority had planned to rent the 1909 Taverne Moderne restaurant – which adjoins the Bell Centre – to open a gaming hall with 350 slot machines.
Installation of these machines would have seen the removal of approximately 600 video lottery machines elsewhere on the island, but the proposal received stinging criticism from Montreal Public Health in a 42-page report which outlined the potential danger of such a property.
Significantly, the gaming hall’s location was seen as risky – particularly for men between the ages of 18-44 who are “particularly vulnerable” when it comes to gambling addictions – due to the close proximity of the Bell Centre, which is intrinsically linked to the Montreal Canadiens’ ownership group Groupe CH.
The decision of Montreal Public Health to report their findings to the media prompted a stern response from Loto-Quebec earlier this week, but the Crown Corporation has now admitted defeat in its attempts to open a gaming hall, at least in its current guise.
Citing a “missed opportunity”, Jean-François Bergeron, President and CEO of Loto-Québec, said: “We’re convinced that revamping our land-based model would allow us to better meet today’s challenges and needs. Not doing anything does not amount to a solution. Neither does reducing supply without providing new options to meet player demand.
“By no means does Loto-Québec’s future rest solely on the proposed Bell Centre project, but we are disappointed that the project isn’t going through.
“I want to thank all those involved in the project, like the public health teams, the City of Montréal, and most importantly Groupe CH, for their cooperation over the last two years. I commend Groupe CH on being one of the few professional teams that refuse to do business with illegal gambling operators.”