Loto-Québec’s Plan To Open Casino In Montreal Under Scrutiny
Posted on March 3, 2023 | 9:09 am
Loto-Québec, the provincial lottery and casino operator headquartered in Montreal, is under public scrutiny at the moment as its plan to open a new casino has received criticism from gambling experts.
The plan was made public by Jean-François Bergeron, the Chief Executive Officer of Loto-Québec, during a radio interview. The government-owned company intends to rent the 1909 Taverne Moderne, a former bar which is not operational at the moment, and transform it into a land-based casino by placing hundreds of video gambling machines.
The future casino would be located on des Canadiens-de-Montréal Avenue, very close to Bell Centre, the famous multi-purpose arena which is the home venue of the Montreal Canadiens, the very popular National Hockey League team. The appeal of the location for Loto-Québec is that it would most likely attract sports fans to the newly-built casino.
However, the plan was not received with open arms by the local community. Dr. Jeff Derevensky, Head of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors, explained that gambling accessibility and availability are tied to problem gambling. Opening the casino close to the sports arena would pose the risk of giving people the chance to develop a gambling addiction.
Moreover, a study conducted in 2017 discovered that the neighborhood around the Bell Centre has a population that is already more vulnerable to problem gambling.
The government also made its opinion on this project known through the voice of Eric Girard, the Finance Minister, who said that the plan would be approved but only if Loto-Québec fulfills two conditions.
The first of the two is to have the approval of public health authorities, while the second would be to decrease the overall number of gambling across the province of Québec before opening the new casino in Montreal.
Valérie Plante, the Mayor of Montreal, agreed that public health authorities should have their say before any discussion regarding the casino goes further but added that she was also going to evaluate the proposal herself.
Loto-Québec has been doing well financially in recent month, the first half of the 2022-2023 fiscal year brought an increase of 35.4 percent when it comes to total revenue to 1.46 billion Canadian dollars, while consolidated net income also registered an increase of 37.9 percent year-on-year to an amount of 805.3 million Canadian dollars.