Québec Budget 2024-25: A missed opportunity to modernize the online gaming market

March 14, 2024

As the Minister of Finance tables a budget marked by a record $11 billion deficit, the Coalition québécoise du jeu en ligne deplores the fact that the Québec government has decided to deprive itself of substantial tax revenues by refusing to regulate the online gaming market on its territory.

Since its launch, the Coalition has been offering a concrete solution to help the Québec government counter the effects of the budget deficit. Regulating the market for private online gaming operators would enable the Qu.bec government to obtain additional royalties estimated at a minimum of $230 million annually. This sum would be in addition to the revenues already provided by the Crown Corporation. These revenues could be reinvested in key sectors of the Québec economy, such as health and education, to the benefit of all Quebecers.

In addition to royalties, regulation would create many well-paid jobs here in Québec, while generating significant public revenues, as is currently the case in Ontario. The Ontario model has contributed $523 million in revenues to provincial and municipal governments, and nearly $1.6 billion to Ontario’s GDP during its first year of operation.

At a time when the government is asking Crown Corporations, including Loto-Québec, to optimize and increase efficiency in order to find savings, Québec cannot afford to deprive itself of significant sources of new revenue. The Minister must review Loto-Québec’s mandate and set up an independent regulatory body to ensure that gaming in Québec is properly supervised. After all, the Crown Corporation’s mission is to offer both safe gaming to Quebecers and contribute to public revenues. Our recommendation meets both these objectives.

Recommendations in favor of a licensing and tax system for private operators and the creation of an independent regulatory body have been issued since 2014, notably by the Task Force on Online Gaming. Since then, Dr. Sylvia Kairouz, Research Chair in the Study of Gambling at Concordia University, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) and the Direction régionale de santé publique de Montréal have all recommended the creation of a body to oversee all gaming in Québec, including Loto-Québec.

The Minister missed an opportunity to send a clear signal in his budget, following Alberta’s example last week, to take action towards implementing regulations that would protect Quebecers while boosting government revenues. Instead of listening to the experts, who have been calling for regulation of the online gaming market for over 10 years, Quebec prefers to protect Loto-Québec’s monopoly, to the detriment of public services and the Québec society that receives them.

Nathalie Bergeron, spokesperson for the Coalition québécoise du jeu en ligne