Quebec’s provincial gambling monopoly is enjoying double-digit gains in online gambling revenue but still can’t keep pace with its west coast provincial rival.
Earlier this month, Loto-Quebec released its report on its performance in the 12 months ending March 31, during which revenue rose 2.1% to C$3.6b (US $2.9b) while profits were essentially flat at C$1.23b but just managed to exceed the fiscal year target.
Loto-Quebec’s mainstay lottery ops saw revenue inch up 1.7% to C$1.83b. This category includes the Mise-o-jeu parlay sports betting product, which contributed revenue of C$76.7m, up 16.5% year-on-year. The brick-and-mortar casino vertical saw revenue rise 4% to C$838.8m, while gaming establishments gained 1.3% to C$993.5m.
Loto-Quebec’s Espacejeux.com online gambling site saw its revenue rise 29.7% to C$85.9m (US $69.4m). While the nearly one-third rise is impressive, it’s well short of the C$157.6m recently reported by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s PlayNow.com, which operates in a province with less than two-thirds of Quebec’s population.
But help may be on the way. In May 2016, Quebec legislators approved their controversial Bill 74, an omnibus bill that included plans to force the province’s internet service providers to block the domains of all gambling sites that weren’t (a) Espacejeux or (b) a few select sites that would receive Loto-Quebec’s approval after agreeing to share a slice of their revenue with the province.
Bill 74’s domain-blocking provisions were immediately challenged in court by Canada’s national telecom operators association and have been rejected by the national telecom regulator as an unlawful intrusion into its traditional jurisdiction.
Yet Loto-Quebec says it’s proceeding under the assumption that Bill 74’s provisions will take effect at some unspecified future date, and that teams are “already working on the required IT advancements” to ensure Espacejeux can handle the expected surge in customers left with nowhere else to go.
A new online ‘virtual store’ is set to launch this October, as part of Loto-Quebec’s efforts to “make the client experience more fluid when navigating among product families.” This virtual store will consist of a single environment offering lotteries, poker and slot machines.
On Friday, Loto-Quebec issued its Q1 2017-18 report, which saw overall revenue rise 6.2% year-on-year to C$882.4m, while Espacejeux’s numbers shot up 42.3% to C$24.5m. Online lottery revenue was up 51% to C$11.3m while online gaming gained 35% to C$13.1m.