Canadian Operator Loto-Quebec Accused of Misusing its Influence

Provincial infighting casts shadow over monopoly’s practices

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A severely critical study has recently surfaced in Quebec, Canada’s French speaking province. Commissioned by the Department of Public Health and obtained by the country’s Access to Information Act, the report paints a very unflattering picture of the Canadian casino and online gambling operator, Loto-Quebec.

The public corporation is granted a provincial monopoly on games of chance under Canadian gambling laws, and at least one other department of the provincial government is clearly unhappy with the way the company has been handling this power and responsibility.

The scathing criticism includes a statement about Loto-Quebec being “the nerve center of an impressive web of influences” allowing it to “neutralize potential opposition” and thus keeping its corporate image spotless.

The aim of the report was to explore the various public health strategy options to combat problem gambling, as well as the impact of Loto-Quebec’s advertising practices.

The authors of the study were particularly contemptuous of the way the public corporation goes about building a positive image.

“Loto-Quebec is the nerve center of an impressive web of influences, mainly among government agencies, research organizations, charities, thousands of non-profit organizations, as well as in arts and education,” claims in the study.

The findings continue with claims about the company’s advertising and its impact. “It has also invested tens of millions of dollars in all media. Through this sphere of influence, Loto-Quebec contributes to the growing acceptance of gambling, including among youth who are not yet of a legal age to gamble,” states the critical report.

It points out that the corporation, which runs lotteries, online casino games, internet poker and even an online sportsbooks in Canada’s Quebec province, has grown from being the region’s 8th largest advertiser in 2009 to a silver medalist in 2012, spending nearly CAD 100 million a year on this activity.

The study also adds that “this web of influence also allows to essentially neutralize potential opposition to the way it manages gambling. This critical mass of individuals and organizations dependent on revenue from Loto-Quebec are involuntary participants in legitimizing the corporation and helping gambling to be accepted and even promoted in some cases.”

Loto-Quebec has not been available for comment.

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