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Loto-Québec Cannot Tackle Illegal Online Gambling on Its Own

Loto-Québec has requested help from the police department and federal lawmakers in its fight against illegal online gambling sites. On Wednesday, the Crown corporation’s new President and CEO Jean-François Bergeron, who spoke before an audience at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, explained that the company is having trouble in establishing itself in the online gaming sector.

Currently, there are numerous online websites that offer free-to-play gambling, which is legal by law, however, many of those are just gateway to pay-to-play platforms which are not regulated by the province. This is causing more and more people to be drawn to these websites with non-existent player protections, instead of wagering on the province’s regulated platform by Loto-Québec.

Help Required

At the conference, Mr. Bergeron stated that the Crown agency is doing its best to fight the issue, but the federal government and public security also have to do their part in it. According to him, this is not him putting pressure on both as they are all on the same team. He explained that the TV ads of the websites are legal, however, their pay-to-play model is not legal and the only regulated online gambling offerings are provided by the Crown.

The President and CEO believes that the Crown needs to simplify its process of accepting newly-registered users online as it is slightly more complicated in comparison to the offshore sites. According to him, this is the first tipping point for players as it is not just creating an account and putting in a credit card, there are many checks before a user can start playing.

However, Mr. Bergeron does not consider giving up in the fight against illegal gambling websites, and he states the Crown must do better and enhance its current offerings. He also noted that the websites are also advertised by many sports teams and TV channels, and in his opinion, those who partner with them should consider the reputational risks from promoting illegal websites.

He concluded by pointing out that single-event wagering was legalized only recently on August 27, 2021, and it was something that fans have wanted for a long time. He says that the Crown would have implemented it long ago if it was legal, and he insists that until all offshore sites are gone, the federal government must provide a more level playing field for the Crown institutions.

Now Taken to Court

A while back, the Crown corporation suffered a security breach which was detected by the province’s permanent anti-corruption unit. Martin Raymond, a computer analyst from Terrebonne, was found to have taken advantage of his position of working online gaming center and conspiring a fraudulent scheme with the access he had to users’ accounts. Recently, the 37-year-old was charged with several criminal offenses.

Vaccination Protocols for Staff

Previously, Loto-Québec announced that it will not require its employees to get vaccinated for the unprecedented situation, as many other institutions from the province decided to do so. On the subject, Mr. Bergeron said that he does not think that many employers have the tools to implement such passports for immunization, and he does not plan on asking the federal government to implement it on the casino workers.

Source: “Loto-Quebec says it lacks tools from authorities to confront illegal online gambling”, Montreal CTV News, November 11, 2021