Online gamblers in Quebec would prefer a regulated commercial market over the current government monopoly, survey says

December 2, 2023 11:55 AM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
December 2, 2023 11:55 AM

A coalition of online gaming operators aiming to see an Ontario-style commercial igaming regulatory regime established in Quebec has released a survey that they say shows a thirst among Quebecers for a private market option.

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At present, the only entity offering legal gambling of any kind in Quebec (other than two small First Nations operations) is Loto-Québec, a crown corporation. The Quebec Online Gaming Coalition, comprised of Betway, Bet99, DraftKings, Entain, Flutter Entertainment, Games Global, and Rush Street Interactive, partnering with Apricot Investments, says it is committed to working with the Quebec government and local stakeholders to develop a new regulatory framework for the province.

On Friday the coalition released a survey of Quebecers, conducted by Mainstreet Research, to determine Quebecers’ habits when playing online, which found that nearly three out of four Quebec players choose privately operated platforms, unlicensed by Quebec and not legal there, to play online casino games and for sports bettin.

More specifically, the survey of 1,101 Quebecers revealed that the 72% of Québec players who use Loto-Québec’s Espace Jeux platform do so exclusively to buy lottery tickets, and when excluding Quebec players who use the Espace Jeux just for lottery, the survey found that 26.6 per cent players visit the site to play online games and for sports betting. 

“These results show that Loto-Québec’s monopoly only exists on paper, and the Crown Corporation’s recent assessment of its market share does not reflect reality,” said Nathalie Bergeron, the Coalition’s spokesperson. “The Québec government must consider the habits and preferences of Quebecers who play online games and establish a proper regulatory regime to protect the majority of Quebecers who play on privately operated platforms for online casino games and sports betting and not on the Crown Corporation’s platform.”

In response, Loto-Québec spokesperson Renaud Dugas told CDC Gaming Reports: “Our position hasn’t changed. Some members of the coalition formed to promote responsible gaming and a new regulatory framework in Quebec are violating Canada’s Criminal Code by illegally offering games to Quebec residents, which raises serious doubts and questions about their actual intentions. In Quebec, the rules could not be clearer: if it’s not Loto-Québec, it’s not legal. Loto-Québec is the only organization that can offer a 100% legal online casino and sports betting website in the province.”  

Mainstreet Research’s research also found that 67 percent of Quebec players are in favor of regulated private online gaming operating under a licensing and tax regime like the one in Ontario.

On top of that, 56 per cent of Quebec players are in support the creation of an independent regulatory body to oversee the regime in Quebec, including Loto-Québec, similar to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and iGaming Ontario, particularly in areas like consumer safety and responsible gaming.  Currently Quebec’s crown corporation self-regulates.