This new reality of online gaming in Québec can’t be ignored any longer. An industry-led coalition that wants to help launch regulated igaming with private operators in Québec said a meeting it held recently with the provincial government “went well” and will meet again in the next few months.
The Québec Online Gaming Coalition (QOGC) also met with the opposition in the National Assembly. Those talks and others with various stakeholders are helping generate a buzz on several igaming topics, including introducing an independent regulator, the potential for more jobs and tax revenue, and more robust responsible gaming protections.
“[Our] introductory meeting with representatives of the Ministry of Finance went well,” QOGC spokesperson Nathalie Bergeron told Poker Industry PRO in an exclusive last month. “We were happy to have generated conversations on a topic that was not really being discussed previously and that various stakeholders are now paying attention and want to participate in a public debate about regulating the online gaming market.”
It wasn’t clear when the QOGC would next meet with provincial officials, but Bergeron said talks with it and “other political stakeholders” would be held “in the coming months.” Judging by the pace at which several igaming entities founded the QOGC and first approached the government, the next meetings are likely to be held sometime this fall.
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 In the meantime, Bergeron said the coalition was working to build “regular points of contact” with the government and would also “share relevant data” to help convince it to abandon its current model — where the provincial lottery, Loto-Québec, has been given a monopoly on igaming. The lottery is also in charge of responsible gaming, and there is no regulator.
“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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Tax Revenue, Jobs Were Big Topics
According to Bergeron, potential tax revenue and job creation were two big subjects that the QOGC discussed with the Finance Ministry.
The most recent revenue numbers from iGaming Ontario (iGO) were discussed, as was a recent study by Deloitte that found the regulated Ontario igaming market supported more than 12,000 full-time jobs and contributed nearly CAD $1.6 billion (USD $1.2 billion) to Ontario’s GDP in its first year, including more than CAD $900 million (USD $682.2 million) in labor income.
[Ontario’s revenue figures] continue to demonstrate the consumers’ growing interest to play on regulated private sites and benefit from high standards of responsible gaming. The QOGC used the iGO figures to conclude that Québec could generate a minimum of CAD $230 million (USD $174.4 million) in annual tax revenue.
“Those numbers are only going up,” Bergeron said, “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 added that the iGO figures “continue to demonstrate the consumers’ growing interest to play on regulated private sites and benefit from high standards of responsible gaming.
“It is also interesting to note that we are also seeing a small decline in the number of accounts of active players, which shows that access to regulated sites is not increasing the number of players but rather providing them with safe conditions to play in.”
That aligns with an argument that the QOGC has been making. In a recent survey, the coalition found that 71% of respondents doesn’t believe the provincial government has the authority to block the websites of private operators, and 75% agree that tax revenue generated from iGaming should help fund social responsibility programs, including addiction prevention.
Note: A rate of CAD $1 = USD 75.8 cents was used for monetary conversion purposes.