Quebec’s provincial gambling monopoly is attempting to boost business at its state-run online gambling operation by improving sports betting payout percentages.
On Monday, Loto-Quebec announced that its Mise-o-jeu online and mobile sports betting service would boost payout rates from 84% to 90%, with certain wagers paying out at 92%. Bettors looking to take advantage of these improved rates must sign up for an account with Loto-Quebec’s online gambling site Espacejeux.com.
Thanks to national legislators’ failure to pass the C-290 sports betting bill, Canadian bettors who wager with their provincial gambling monopolies are limited to parlay-type wagers, with some exceptions (and the occasional cockup).
For instance, Miseojeu.com offers single bets, but these must be proposition wagers related to more than one event or which combine two questions. For example, bettors can wager on which player might finish a season as the highest point-getter, or picking both the winning team and the number of goals scored in a single match.
The improved payout rates – suggested marketing slogan: Now Better Than Nothing! – are the latest attempt by Loto-Quebec to increase traffic to its Espacejeux site, which celebrated its fifth anniversary on Dec. 1 yet which earned less than $49m in its most recent fiscal year.
Boosting payout is also a far less controversial measure than Loto-Quebec’s proposal to IP-block international gambling sites that aren’t subject to the single-game sports betting prohibition detailed in Canada’s Criminal Code.
Finance Minister Carlos Leitao first announced the IP-blocking plans in March as part of his proposed budget. Last month saw Leitao file the necessary paperwork with the provincial legislature, confirming plans to require the province’s internet service providers to block a list of “unauthorized” sites. Any ISP that fails to observe this blacklist could face initial fines of up to $100k, rising to $200k for repeat offenders.
Local ISPs have already expressed their unwillingness to implement Leitao’s scheme, calling it unworkable. The proposal may also be unconstitutional, but Leitao believes he can overcome these latter concerns by framing the matter as a “public health” issue rather than as the blatant censorship and protectionism it appears to be to everyone outside the Ministry of Finance.