BUSINESS

Loto-Quebec’s online gambling revenue up more than one-third in fiscal 2015-16

TAGs: Canada, Loto Quebec

loto-quebec-espacejeux-profitsLoto-Quebec’s online gambling revenue improved more than one-third in its most recent fiscal year

According to its annual report released last week, the Canadian provincial gambling monopoly said its Espacejeux.com online gambling operations were “still very attractive,” with revenue rising 35.2% to a not at all butt-ugly C$66.2m (US $51.6m) in the 12 months ending March 31.

The company says all of Espacejeux’s gaming verticals are “gaining ground” and its new mobile product was helping bring in new players. The December 2015 decision to boost the pitiful payout ratio at its Mise-o-jeu parlay sports betting offering is reportedly paying off (although no specifics were offered) and its nascent political prop wagers are said to be off to a good start.

However, the fact that Espacejeux is forced to compete with internationally licensed online operators means the site’s market share remains mired at a pitiful 25%. If only there was some way of artificially tipping the scales so that Quebecois punters would have absolutely no choice but to settle for Espacejeux’s homegrown offering.

Et voila! Enter Bill 74, the omnibus legislation passed last month that includes the unprecedented – and quite possibly unconstitutional – requirement for local internet service providers to block Espacejeux’s international competitors at the province’s digital borders, a draconian step that the province claims is intended to protect consumers, despite the minister of finance having already said it was about boosting Espacejeux’s annual haul by $27m.

Loto-Quebec says Bill 74 will leave customers with no choice but to choose “an honest and controlled framework, thus ensuring that profits benefit Quebeckers.” That is, assuming the cost of defending court challenges by ISPs, the federal government, civil libertarian groups and the Mohawks in Kahnawake doesn’t exceed Espacejeux’s annual profits. (Now that’s a political prop we’d like to see them offer.)

As for Loto-Quebec’s overall results, revenue improved 6.7% to $3.56b and net income rose 10% to $1.23b as profit margins rose 1.1 points to a staggering 34.5%. You can understand why they don’t fancy competition, can’t you?

The mainstay lottery business was up 10% to $1.8b while casino revenues rose 3.8% to $806.2m and gaming establishments – which includes video lottery terminals, bingo and Kinzo halls – gained 2.9% to $980.3m.

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