This new reality of online gaming in Québec can’t be ignored any longer. The Coalition believes that offering a safe and regulated environment to every consumer is the best public policy to ensure they have access to the same standards The Québec Online Gaming Coalition (QOGC) said its meeting with the provincial government to discuss the possibility of setting up a regulated system for igaming, including online poker, in Québec “went well” and that various stakeholders, including the opposition in the National Assembly, want to participate in the discussion.
That’s according to QOGC spokesperson Nathalie Bergeron, who added in an exclusive interview this week on Poker Industry PRO that the industry-led group is keeping channels open and is working to develop “regular points of contact.” It plans to share relevant data with provincial officials and to meet with them again in the next few months.
“This new reality of online gaming in Québec can’t be ignored any longer,” Bergeron said. “The Coalition believes that offering a safe and regulated environment to every consumer is the best public policy to ensure they have access to the same standards, whether they play with the Crown corporations’ site [Espace Jeux], or with private operators.
“We are happy we were able to share our position and believe we do make a compelling argument.”
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Judging by Bergeron’s characterization of what was discussed between QOGC and the Finance Ministry, the “compelling argument” being put forward centers on three themes:
- Québec would generate more revenue from igaming with a regulated market of private operators, similar to the one in neighboring Ontario
- Such a market would also create thousands of jobs across Québec
- Responsible gaming protections would be more robust under a reformed system, too
Currently, the provincial lottery, Loto-Québec, holds a monopoly on igaming in the province. The lottery is also in charge of responsible gaming initiatives. There is no regulator for igaming.
Bergeron said QOGC estimates Québec could generate a minimum of CAD $230 million (USD $174.4 million) in annual tax revenue based on the first-year revenue figures in Ontario. She added that a recent study by Deloitte found Ontario’s regulated market supported more than 12,000 full-time jobs and contributed nearly CAD $1.6 billion to Ontario’s GDP in its first year.
“Those numbers are only going up — and as the Québec government often speaks about creating high-paying jobs right here in the province, it now has the opportunity to do so,” she said.
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A regulated market of online gaming would allow the Québec government, in collaboration with public health experts, to fully decide what standardized measures it deems necessary to put in place to offer Québecers a safe gaming environment On responsible gaming, QOGC has posited since its formation that it believes an independent regulator would be more appropriate than Loto-Québec, a commercial appendage of the provincial government.
“We cannot speak on their behalf, but a regulated market of online gaming would allow the Québec government, in collaboration with public health experts, to fully decide what standardized measures it deems necessary to put in place to offer Québecers a safe gaming environment, regarding consumer safety, responsible gaming, and advertising, for example,” Bergeron said.
But recent figures from iGaming Ontario (iGO) show a small decline in the number of accounts of active players. Bergeron said that indicates that “access to regulated sites is not increasing the number of players but rather providing them with safe conditions to play in.”
If the Québec government decided to embrace a regulated market, the province would likely become one of the largest in North America for online poker and casino gaming.
Consider that Québec, with 8.5 million residents, is the second-most populous province in Canada. Only Ontario is bigger, with 14.2 million. And since the market for online poker in Ontario is currently the largest regulated market for online poker in North America, it’s reasonable to assume Québec might be over half of that size.