Realizing that it has become impossible to stop illegal online gaming, this week Loto-Quebec announced the launch of their own government regulated gaming website, espacejeux.com.
“Any attempt to make gaming illegal on the internet, as was the case with alcohol, doesn’t work,” said Loto-Quebec’s president and CEO Alain Cousineau at a press conference at the Delta Hotel on Friday.
There are currently over 2,000 unregulated, illegal gaming websites being used by Quebecers. It’s an industry that generates an estimated $1 billion a year. Cousineau hopes to move these users into a controlled gaming environment.
“This is our unique DNA, to channel the gaming offer on a controlled site,” he said.
Loto-Quebec worked with world-renowned consultant and researcher Dr. Richard Wood in developing the website. He undertook an independent review of espacejeux.com, and his 23-page report is available at lotoquebec.com.
“Mr. Wood’s conclusions show that we are in the industry forefront in terms of responsible gaming,” stated Cousineau.
Dr. Wood, however, does voice concern about the use of credit cards being allowed on the Loto-Quebec website, which might lead some players to spend money they don’t have.
“If players so wish, they can set maximum playing time and spending limits on a daily, weekly or monthly basis,” the registration process guidelines state.
If players don’t specify a limit when they register, they can spend up to $9,999 per week on the espacejeux.com website. Cousineau said that other limits will also be in place, such as a time out after every 60 minutes of play and a self-exclusion program. There will also be a complex four-step registration process to ensure that no one has two accounts and no minors register.
Players must identify themselves, set their account parameters, agree to Loto-Quebec’s conditions and confirm their identities by providing a credit card number and a home address. They will then receive a letter at their home confirming their registration. This is designed to prevent minors from accessing the site.
“If a teenager goes through all that process he will then have to explain to his father why he [the father] received a letter saying he just became a member of Loto-Quebec’s website,” Cousineau said.
Concordia sociology and anthropology professor Sylvia Kairouz is working on a study to find ways to prevent and cure gambling addictions. Her study found that, in the past year, nearly 70 per cent of Quebec adults have spent money on gambling. She could not be reached for comment on Loto-Quebec’s new venture by press time.