Loto-Québec Q1 revenues fall; Betfair opens Canadian free-play casino, maybe


loto-quebec-betfair-playngoYou know the numbers are bad when a gaming company’s quarterly report takes great pains to point out that the same quarter the previous year had two extra days in it. So, with 2.3% less days in the first quarter of its fiscal 2012-2013, it should come as no surprise that Canadian provincial lottery corporation Loto-Québec’s sales were off 4.6% to $842m while net earnings fell 7.2% to $304.9m. (Um, did we mention that those two extra days were a Friday and a Saturday?) Actually, things aren’t completely bad. Lottery sales rose 2.1%, spurred on by the fact that the Lotto Max game paid out the first $50m jackpot in its history, which likely prompted all manner of Francophones to rethink their stance toward the tax on the mathematically-challenged. Bingo was also up just under 4%, but video lottery sales were off 1.1%, and the land-based casino biz fell 6.2%.

Espacejeux.com, Loto-Québec’s online gambling site, recorded ‘turnover’ of $5.9m, up 30.7% over the previous year. Unfortunately, that’s as specific as the government-owned entity is willing to get about its online operation, so there’s no way to tell whether their poker offering is as anemic as the British Columbia Lottery Corp.’s PlayNow.com, currently the only other contributor to the GTECH G2-powered Canadian Poker Network. Nor is there any indication as to how well the sports betting option they added in March is faring. Loto-Québec’s sports betting product is still limited to the parlay variety, as the various provincial lottery outfits eagerly await the federal Senate’s third reading of NDP MP Joe Comartin’s C-290 single-game sports betting legislation.

Needless to say, Loto-Québec also doesn’t offer peer-to-peer sports wagering, so it doesn’t really compete with Betfair, but Betfair has decided to compete with Loto-Québec and BCLC. Sorta. On Thursday, Betfair announced it had launched BetfairCasino.net, a site “strictly aimed at the Canadian market.” The site, the content of which is provided by Sweden-based and UK- Malta- and Alderney-licensed gaming solution provider Play’n GO, is intended “to drive awareness and consideration for Betfair’s Casino Brand” in the Canadian market. A noble goal, for as we all know, first impressions are critical. Problem is, attempts to access the site produce only a GoDaddy parking page. Um… Play’n GoDaddy? Betfail? D’oh Canada?