Those who want an Ontario-like system of competitive online sports betting in Quebec may have the public on their side in La Belle Province.
Polling done for the Québec Online Gaming Coalition (QOGC), a group backed by operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel, found that 67% of Quebec-based online gamblers it surveyed support a licensing system to regulate private-sector operators of mobile sportsbooks and casinos.
What’s more, while around half of those surveyed said they use the provincially owned online gambling platform, Espace Jeux, 72% of those people were using the site exclusively to buy lottery tickets. When those lottery-only players were excluded, just 26.6% of Espace Jeux users reported they were there for online sports betting or casino gambling.
Do the math
This, the coalition says, suggests that nearly three-quarters of Quebec’s online gamblers are turning to private-sector operators of mobile sportsbooks and casinos for their action. Those “grey market” platforms are not regulated by the province and can be based abroad and offshore.
Quebec currently has just one legal provider of online gambling, the government-owned Loto-Québec. Ontario, meanwhile, has more than 70 authorized iGaming sites that have begun taking bets in the province since it launched its competitive market in April 2022.
“These results show that Loto-Québec’s monopoly only exists on paper, and the Crown Corporation’s recent assessment of its market share does not reflect reality,’ said Nathalie Bergeron, the Quebec coalition’s spokesperson, in a press release.
This might provide ammunition for the effort to bring an Ontario-like system of online sports betting and iGaming to Quebec. Polling done by @MainStResearch for @Coalitionjeu suggests ~73% of Quebec online bettors use private operators, which are not regulated by the province. pic.twitter.com/PFr3PFQLNL— Geoff Zochodne (@GeoffZochodne) December 1, 2023
While the group has yet to win over the Quebec government, its polling points to an interest in the province beyond what its lottery offers online gamblers. Recent data collected by GeoComply also suggests interest in what Ontario provides its provincial punters.
In addition, Quebec is the second-most populous province in Canada, behind only Ontario. Its population would make it one of the 15 largest states in the U.S., which could account for the interest from bookmakers and coalition supporters such as Betway and BetMGM in Quebec sports betting.
A sign, via data collected by @GeoComply, of interest in an Ontario-like online sports betting market in Quebec.— Geoff Zochodne (@GeoffZochodne) November 22, 2023
GeoComply says it blocked 105K attempts from Quebec to access Ontario-regulated sportsbooks since the start of this NFL season. (h/t @GamingNewsCA) pic.twitter.com/AtZzRjxcmb
The polling results released Friday also include that 69% of those surveyed had “no confidence” in the Québec government's ability to block outside gambling sites from operating in the province.
Furthermore, 56% agreed an independent regulatory body in Quebec would strengthen oversight of online gambling in the province, while 61% believed funds raised by a licensing and tax system should go to fund responsible gambling and social responsibility programs.
An independent iGaming regulator has been floated before in Quebec, including by Montreal Public Health in a recent report opposing a proposed Loto-Québec gaming lounge at the home of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.
“The Québec government must consider the habits and preferences of Quebecers who play online games and establish a proper regulatory regime to protect the majority of Quebecers who play on privately operated platforms for online casino games and sports betting and not on the Crown Corporation’s platform,” Bergeron said.
Mainstreet conducted its survey in late September and early October, sampling the opinion of 1,010 adult online gamblers from Quebec over the phone. The poll’s margin of error is approximately 3.1% “at the 95% confidence level,” it notes.