Quebec Finance Ministry Rejects Online Gambling Deregulation

A spokesperson for Québec’s Finance Ministry has told La Tribune that it does not intend to follow in Ontario’s footsteps in deregulating online gambling and ending Loto-Québec’s monopoly on legal gambling. This is despite an ongoing campaign from the Québec Online Gaming Coalition (QOGC) to establish a regulated industry in the province. 

“[Ontario’s] changes [to sports betting law] made have led to overexposure to online gambling advertisements and a trivialization of gambling,” said a spokesperson from the office of the Minister of Finance, as reported by La Tribune (article in French). “This is not what we want in Québec. Furthermore, several experts believe that with the massive arrival of mobile phones, deregulation is not desirable. This has an effect on the rise in problem gambling, particularly among young people.”

Loto-Québec, which is a crown corporation operating the sole legal online gambling platform in the province, is touted as providing a safer alternative to unregulated online gambling. “The mission of Loto-Québec is to regulate games of chance and money and protect them from the control of illegal operators, including organized crime,” the Finance Ministry’s office said.

The Québec Online Gaming Coalition, representing private operators, advocates for a regulated framework to challenge Loto-Québec’s monopoly. The group, formed in May 2023 between major operators like FanDuel and DraftKings, suggests that competition and enhanced player protection could benefit from a licensing model similar to Ontario.

President of QOGC Natalie Bergeron insists that the monopoly is designed solely to insulate Loto-Québec from competition. “It is estimated that industry royalties from private operators would be $230 million in Quebec,” she says. “We are not talking about revenues. We are only talking about royalties. This gives you an idea that the market is huge. What we see from Loto-Québec is a monopoly that protects itself.”

Despite the Coalition’s push for modernization, citing a survey that shows a significant number of Quebecers use privately operated casino sites, the government’s stance reflects a resistance to changing the framework. Concerns about consumer safety, responsible gaming, and preserving state revenues underscore the resistance to adopting a model similar to Ontario’s deregulated market.

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