Quebec’s provincial gambling monopoly reported online revenue rising nearly one-quarter in the first half of its fiscal year.
On Thursday, Loto-Quebec reported revenue of C$1.75b (US $1.29b) in the six months ending September 26, essentially flat from the same period last year. However, tighter control over expenses allowed profit to rise 3.5% to C$639m.
Loto-Quebec’s mainstay lottery revenue fell 2.3% to C$852.6m, partly as a result of fewer major jackpots on offer. By comparison, land-based casino revenue rose nearly 5% to C$421.4m thanks in part to “vigorous tourism trade,” likely spurred by the weakness of the Canadian dollar versus the US greenback. Gaming halls reported a 1% rise in revenue to C$491m.
Loto-Quebec’s online gambling site Espacejeux.com, which celebrates its sixth birthday on December 1, continued to outpace other verticals, rising 24% to C$35.2m, putting it on pace to break the previous fiscal year’s total online revenue of C$66.2m. Loto-Quebec credited the ongoing gains to a wider variety of gaming options and efforts to enhance the customer experience.
Espacejeux came up for discussion at this week’s 2016 Canadian ISP Summit, at which Quebec-based internet service providers had harsh words for the provincial government’s plan to require ISPs to block the domains of Espacejeux’s internationally licensed online rivals.
In September, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declared Quebec’s IP-blocking plan to be illegal. On Wednesday, former CRTC commissioner Tim Denton went further, calling it “a downright stupid approach to managing [Loto-Quebec’s] gambling monopoly.”
Denton went on to say that Quebec’s plan “will impose significant costs on ISPs and is likely to be technically futile, but they don’t know that yet.” If Quebec doesn’t know that, it’s because they’ve never done any research on other protectionist jurisdictions that have imposed IP-blocking with little to no effect on the accessibility of such sites.
Russia’s Roskomnadzor watchdog agency has probably been the most aggressive in playing online gambling domain whack-a-mole, blocking hundreds of domains on a weekly basis since it was granted new powers late last year. The agency blocked 716 additional domains in just the first week of November.
But the ineffectuality of this crackdown was exposed via a public pronouncement this week from Russia’s Federal Tax Service, warning the public to stay away from unauthorized ‘mirror’ sites, i.e. the infinite variety of slightly altered domains that gambling operators launch once Roskomnadzor blocks their primary site.