Loto-Quebec online gambling growth shames other verticals


loto-quebec-online-gambling-casino-growthQuebec’s provincially-owned gambling monopoly continues to set new online gambling revenue records, albeit with little help from its online lotteries.

Figures released Friday show the Loto-Quebec gambling monopoly generated revenue of C$685.8m (US$517.6m) in the three months ending December 30, 2019 (their fiscal Q3). That represents an 11.1% decline from the same period in 2018, as all verticals reported year-on-year reversals.

The traditionally dominant lottery unit saw its revenue slide nearly one-fifth to C$219.1m, which the Crown corporation blamed on a paucity of mega-jackpots in its Lotto Max product. Over the first three-quarters of Loto-Quebec’s fiscal year, lottery revenue is down 9.5% to C$668.9m.

The casinos division, which includes the Espacejeux online gambling site, reported its Q3 revenue down 5% to C$247.8m, while its nine-month total nudged up 1.7% to C$760.3m.

Espacejeux’s year-to-date online lottery sales bucked the overall lottery trend by growing less than 1% to C$24.5m, while online casino revenue gained nearly one-quarter to C$68.9m, for a nine-month total of C$93.4m.

Loto-Quebec’s gaming establishments unit (VLTs in bars and other small venues) slipped 8% to C$225.6m in Q4 and lost 1% to C$691.5m in the year-to-date.

Last December marked the 50th anniversary of Loto-Quebec’s inception, which the Crown corp chose to celebrate by relaunching its original lottery product, a paper numeric draw ticket that bears the same C$2 price tag it had in 1970. The tickets will only be available for a six-week period starting January 27 and the five main C$125k prizes up for grabs will be drawn on March 14.

This birthday celebration has come under criticism after Loto-Quebec released a deepfake video featuring well-known local TV presenter Bernard Derome, who in 1970 had informed Quebecers of Loto-Quebec’s debut. The deepfake ad purports to show Derome announcing the revived lottery product’s arrival.

While no one appears to have confused the video for an attempt to rewrite history, critics — including Derome, who was paid for the use of his image — have expressed concerns that the trivial use of deepfake technology will lead to similar efforts that could have much more sinister intentions. Loto-Quebec said it has no intentions of releasing further deepfakes, saying it understood “very well that it is a technology that can be misused.”

Loto-Quebec recently found itself in another minor kerfuffle after the chair of its board of directors Hélène Fortin was discovered to be a director on the board of one of Canada’s largest legal cannabis processors. While local media initially had a field day with the news, a Quebec government watchdog later clarified that unless Loto-Quebec started giving away baggies of pot as prizes, it wasn’t an issue.