Rumblings are growing in Quebec.
In recent weeks multiple reports have surfaced surrounding the French-speaking province’s interest in offering in-person event wagers at Quebec casinos and gaming halls. Currently, Loto-Québec’s only sports betting options are available through its provincial sportsbook – Mise-o-jeu.
However, like Ontario, for now, no brick-and-mortar sportsbooks operate in the province.
Despite the chatter, a spokesperson for the Crown corporation would neither confirm nor deny the report when reached for comment via email.
“We do not have more details at the moment, but we will gladly share the news when we have some.”
Loto-Québec “exploring” casino sports betting
According to Covers, which broke the news, a Loto-Quebec spokesperson confirmed the government agency’s ambitions.
“Loto-Quebec is, in fact, exploring the idea of offering sports betting in its casinos and gaming halls.”
Regardless, it appears the Crown corporation is keeping it tight-lipped for the time being.
As it currently stands, Quebecers only have two options to place their sports bets. The first is online. The second is in-person via a lottery retailer.
Both are made available through the province’s sportsbook, Mise-o-jeu.
Brick-and-mortar sportsbook spice up casino experience
Detractors say the single-provincial sportsbooks model comes with its downfalls.
The biggest gripe usually centres around the monopolization of the market. According to critics, fewer operators means less competition, hindering creativity and the user experience.
Punters will remember Ontario did away with such a model on April 4, 2022. That was when Canada’s most-populated province ushered in its expanded gambling market. Outside operators have since been aplenty.
Other provinces have yet to follow suit.
Thus, alternative ways to spruce up the marketplace, such as brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, could be a welcomed addition.
No Canadian province offers brick-and-mortar sportsbooks
Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks are commonplace in the US.
In Canada, however, it’s different.
Take Ontario – the golden standard for sports betting in Canada.
The province has over 25 operators in its competitive gaming market, but casinos have yet to offer brick-and-mortar sportsbooks for single-event wagers.
In contrast, the US – in particular Nevada – is littered with such grandiose experiences. Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, Caesar’s Palace and Red Rock Casino are some examples.
Visit any of these locations, and bettors enjoy monster high-definition screens, plush seats, food and bar service and an army of fellow rabid sports bettors.
Punters often leave saying the spectacle makes for a memorable party-like atmosphere.
Indeed, no one should be expecting Ontario to be Vegas.
But as it currently stands, race tracks would seemingly be the closest Canadians – including Ontarians – have to an exciting in-person sports-betting experience.
Ontario working toward brick-and-mortar sportsbooks
Hence, Quebec could differentiate itself in the Canadian betting landscape if it were to add brick-and-mortar sportsbooks to its casinos.
However, if they aren’t quick, Ontario could crash the party.
An Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) spokesperson tells PlayCanada they are already on the matter.
“Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) continues to work with casino Service providers to offer sports betting at Ontario casinos. Sportsbooks will give casino enthusiast additional exciting entertainment experiences in a safe, responsible, and secure environment.
OLG will provide updates as more details become available.”
Quebec sees sports betting uptick in first quarter
Of course, it is also possible that Loto-Québec will decide against in-person sports betting altogether and forge forward with its current model.
After all, the Crown Corporation has seen favourable results of late.
Consider the government agency’s first fiscal report (April 1 – June 27, 2022); event betting’s online sales increased by 33.3% over last year.
However, it’s important to note that comparison is imperfect because single-game wagering wasn’t even legal last year during this period.
Regardless, with COVID restrictions in the clear, this fiscal year should better indicate sports betting’s actual value in la belle province.
Perhaps that, in turn, will give Loto-Quebec a clearer vision of where its corporation heads moving forward.