The first half of the 2023-24 fiscal year went as expected for Quebec’s provincial gambling authority.
In a statement released Dec. 13, Loto-Québec said the results for the period from Apr. 1 to Sept. 25, 2023, were “in line with its normal growth trajectory.” The overseer of four Québec casinos posted total revenues of $1.412 billion and a net income of $736.8 million.
This is welcome news for Loto-Québec, which had to contend with the challenges of a three-month long strike that affected the crown corporation’s retail casinos and online wagering platform. Starting in June of this year, some 1,700 workers hit the picket lines before reaching an agreement to end the holdout in late September.
“Thanks to our efforts, we have achieved the results we anticipated for the first six months of fiscal 2023–2024, despite an economic climate that is putting pressure on Quebecers’ pocketbooks,” said Jean-François Bergeron, President and CEO in the same statement.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our teams for their outstanding work. We’re maintaining the focus on our objectives.”
Growing online casino sector accounted for more than 1/4 of total revenue
When comparing Loto-Québec’s online casino performance from the first half of 2023-24 to the same metric in its 2022-23 annual report, there is slight but noticeable growth.
In 2022-23, online casinos accounted for 24.5% of the sector’s total revenues. Fast forward to the first half of the current fiscal year, and that same figure grew to 26.3%. Perhaps the strike caused players to try their hand online or maybe personal preferences are changing. Regardless of the reason, it’s still a 1.8% increase.
On the retail side, revenues from casinos and gaming halls totalled $527.2 million. The former dealt with reduced services and hours of operation during the summer as a result of the strike.
Moving on, lottery revenues stood at $452.8 million. This came despite there being fewer Lotto Max 50 million-plus jackpots and Maxmillions being offered during this fiscal period. What’s more, online lottery revenues represented 12.5% of the sector’s total revenues.
Finally, gaming establishment revenues rested at $441.2 million. Loto-Québec largely credited the success of this figure to video lottery terminals, which it says remains appealing to retailers despite the strains put on bars and restaurants in recent years. That said, the crown corporation will continue to reflect on how VLTs “will evolve within a responsible framework.”
Revenue figures increasingly important with coalition looming
Already facing difficulties from an employee walkout, Loto-Québec is also managing added pressure from the Québec Online Gaming Coalition. The group of betting operators lobbying to legalize online gambling in Quebec has told PlayCanada on multiple occasions that the effort is progressing.
Most recently, the coalition released a survey that suggested the gambling habits of Quebecers who play online are shifting away from Loto-Québec’s offering. However, based on our interaction with the crown corporation back in September, they don’t see it that way.
“It’s strange to see the Québec Online Gaming Coalition promoting a regulatory framework, given that some of the signatories provide illegal gambling services to Quebecers, which is a serious breach of the Criminal Code of Canada,” the statement to PlayCanada read.
Loto-Québec rounded out its statement by saying it is the only agency capable of offering legal online wagering in the province.
“In Québec, there are no two ways about it — if it’s not Loto-Québec, it’s not legal. “Only Loto-Québec can operate a casino and sports betting website that’s 100% legal in Québec.”
Loto-Québec unveils two long-term plans
Bergeron also made note of two upcoming long-term strategies in last week’s announcement. The first was Loto-Québec’s 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, which Bergeron says has been tabled at the National Assembly.
“It will guide our actions and help us with opportunities that arise, particularly with regard to changing consumer habits. We believe it’s important to keep modernizing our offerings in a responsible manner, as always.”
Strategy number two is a Corporate Social Responsibility Plan for the years 2023-2028. According to Bergeron, it aligns with the strategic plan, “demonstrating our commitment to balancing the commercial and social aspects of our mission so that we make a positive contribution to the community.”