|Gérard Bibeau, President and Chief Executive Officer|
|Products||Lotteries, Casinos, Video Lottery Terminals and Bingo|
Loto-Québec is a Quebec government corporation whose mandate is to operate games of chance in the province in an orderly and measured way. It was created in 1969 to implement a public lottery. Since that time, Loto-Québec’s shareholder–the Government of Quebec, has given the corporation new mandates that have, over the years, led to a diversification of its activities.
Most of Loto-Québec’s revenue is provided from lottery games such as Lotto Max and 6/49 these games consist of purchasing a ticket which has a set of numbers that can be either hand picked or randomly selected, theses games usually consist of tickets which are worth approximately $2 to 5 a game ($3 to 5 as of 2014). A draw is then made bi-weekly and the ticket that matches the winning combination wins a large prize which is usually over $1 million. However, as in almost every lottery the odds of winning theses games are low. In 2005-2006; new lottery terminals were undated to prevent fraud, and to display more information concerning winning prizes. In addition a new gambling segment for sport games prediction was added. The Lotto 6/49 jackpot climbed to a record high of $54.3 million, new scratch ticket games were launched Clue, Texas Hold'em Poker and Tetris. Loto-Québec won the Silver Award for the 2009 Annual Report during the Vision Awards of the League of American Communications Professionals (Loto-Québec – Dates and Events.
Loto-Québec offers various types of games of chance.
Through its network of more than 9,800 retailers, the corporation offers a variety of lottery products, including:
- Instant (scratch ticket) lotteries
- Traditional paper ticket lotteries such as the Mini
- Online or direct access lotteries such as Lotto 6/49, Lotto Max, Québec 49 and sports betting lotteries
Loto-Québec’s activities are managed by several subsidiaries:
- The Société des casinos du Québec operates four casinos in the province (Casino de Montréal, Casino de Charlevoix, Casino du Lac-Leamy and Casino de Mont-Tremblant) as well as restaurant and hotel services.
- The Société des établissements de jeux du Québec operates a network of around 12,000 video lottery terminals (nicknamed video poker machines) in bars, brasseries and two gaming hall entertainment complexes in Quebec City and Trois-Rivières. It also operates a bingo network and a Kinzo hall. All profits from these activities are paid to non-profits organizations that hold bingo licences.
- Casiloc inc. is responsible for construction projects, acquiring furniture and equipment and renting casino premises. It is also in charge of purchasing property for the lottery, video lottery and bingo sectors of operations.
- Lotim inc. owns the building at 500 Sherbrooke Street West in Montréal that houses the head offices of Loto-Québec and its subsidiaries.
- Technologies Nter develops or acquires, integrates and operates computer systems that support Loto-Québec’s business objectives.
Loto-Québec employs more than 6,000 people (as of March 31, 2010) including nearly 4,500 in its four casinos.
The corporation has a program for the acquisition of contemporary Quebec art in its Collection Loto-Québec. The collection holds more than 4,900 works of art by some 1,200 Quebec artists.
In 1969, the Government of Quebec passed the Act respecting the Société des loteries du Québec, and created a government corporation to operate legalized games of chance in the province. The first draw made by the newly formed government corporation was held on March 14, 1970, and lottery, called Inter Loto, had a jackpot of C$125,000, while tickets cost $2.
At the time, no law specified which level of government would have jurisdiction over the operation of games of chance. For this reason, the Government of Canada created a lottery in 1972 to finance the 1976 Summer Olympics to be held in Montreal. In 1976, that organization became known as Loto-Canada. However, due to sustained pressure by the provinces, Loto-Canada was dissolved in 1979, and the management and operation of games of chance fell under provincial jurisdiction. Provinces are however required to transfer a part of their lottery profits to the federal government. In 2006, this transfer amounted to C$14.1 million.
In 1976, Loto-Québec held its first million-dollar draw in a lottery called Super Loto.
On June 12, 1982, Lotto 6/49 became the first pan-Canadian lottery, with a jackpot of C$500,000.
Despite its humble beginnings, the corporation has since become one of the biggest of its kind in Canada.
On May 25, 2004, activists and public personalities came together to create the EmJEU coalition (Ethics for moderation in gambling). While not prohibitionist or anti-gambling per se, coalition members demanded secure and ethical administration at Loto-Québec and for the entire games of chance industry. They were in part responsible for a public debate on the place games of chance should have in Quebec society and all related issues. In short, EmJEU members demanded the same kind of legislation and regulations for gambling that governed the tobacco industry.
On June 22, 2005, in partnership with Cirque du Soleil, Loto-Québec proposed to relocate the Casino de Montréal in the Peel Street Basin, close to the Old Port’s Cité du Havre in order to become part of a world-class entertainment complex that would include a hotel, performance hall and other components. The project came under fierce criticism from the population of the area, the EmJEU coalition and the Montreal public health authority, which issued a Public Health Warning. The project also led to a polemic on the place games of chance should have in Québec. Following the March 10, 2006 publication of the government-ordered Guy Coulombe report that imposed strict conditions on the project, Cirque du Soleil withdrew from the controversial project and the casino relocation proposal was dropped.
On March 30, 2006, Loto-Québec became an official partner in the Casinos Développement Europe group through its Casino Mundial subsidiary, with a 35% share ownership position. The other two partners are Bridgepoint Capital (55%) and a group of senior managers of this group formerly known as Moliflor Loisirs (10%). This corporation operates 20 French casinos and is the third largest of its type in France.
On November 2, 2006, the Quebec Cabinet authorized Loto-Québec to open four gaming halls in Québec, to be known Ludoplexes, in Montreal, Quebec City, Trois-Rivières and Mont-Tremblant. This authorization allowed Loto-Québec to reach a new stage in its 2004 development plan. The plan has, among other features, a reduction in the number of video lottery terminals (VLTs) intended to tighten access. In point of fact, the number of VLTs dropped 20%, from 14,301 in 2006 to 11,410 in 2009 while the number of VLT locations went from 3663 to 2327 – a drop of 36%. The 11,410 video lottery terminals generate sales of $670 million. Quebec public health authorities (Serge Chevalier, sociologist) estimates that the majority of revenues from these terminals come from problem gamblers, a conclusion that Loto-Québec contests.
The Trois-Rivières casino opened on October 25, 2007, and the Quebec City casino opened on December 6, 2007. On June 24, 2009, the Casino de Mont-Tremblant was inaugurated, replacing the originally planned gaming hall in that location.
On September 15, 2008, one of the biggest class action lawsuits in Canadian history began in Québec Superior Court in Quebec City. Begun in 2002 by former compulsive gambler Jean Brochu, the suit accused Loto-Québec of encouraging the use of VLTs without informing users of the danger of developing a dependency on this type of game of chance. An out-of-court settlement between the parties was reached in December 2009.
In March 2009, Loto-Québec announced a plan to renovate the Casino de Montréal at a cost of C$100 million.
On April 1, 2009, Loto-Québec was awarded the highest available level of international certification (Level 4) in the field of responsible gaming by the World Lottery Association (WLA), which is a worldwide organization of 140 lottery corporations.
On November 6, 2009, the newly launched Lotto Max lottery offered the biggest jackpot in the history of Canadian lotteries: in addition to the $50 million jackpot, Lotto Max added 10 additional $1 million prizes called Maxmillions.
On January 26, 2010, the Government of Québec authorized the Société des loteries du Québec to offer online gaming and made its decision public on February 3 of the same year. The announcement was controversial.
Despite opposition from regional Santé publique du Québec managers and the EmJEU coalition for a government moratorium and pre-implementation studies to assess the social and health impacts of the new Loto-Québec gaming offering on the population of Quebec, Loto-Québec’s factual arguments were convincing: online gaming is already a reality with more than 2,000 illegal gaming sites available and practically no responsible gaming measures in place. The corporation maintained that it sought to “channel its irreproachably trustworthy gaming offering in a controlled way and in a secure environment.” Given the determination to move forward on the part of the Government and Loto-Québec, a petition was circulated and tabled in the National Assembly of Québec. Nonetheless, Loto-Québec launched its Espacejeux.com on December 1, 2010.
On March 23, 2010, Quebec Superior Court Justice Gratien Duchesne approved the December 2009 out-of-court settlement of the video lottery terminal class action suit. In the agreement, the plaintiffs acknowledged that video lottery terminals were not the cause of compulsive gambling, thus confirming the position taken by Loto-Québec.
For the sake of fairness, the Government of Quebec agreed to refund the cost of therapy for compulsive gamblers during the 1994-2002 period, upon submission of receipts and independent of which games were played. Québec Medicare covers such costs since 2002.
The agreement capped the total amount of indemnity payments at $50 million, whereas the plaintiff had claimed damages of around $800 million for their estimated 120,000 compulsive gamblers in Québec (this figure has been contested by Loto-Québec).
On October 19, 2010, the Société des bingos du Québec (SBQ) inaugurated a Kinzo hall at 8780 Boulevard Saint-Laurent in Montreal. Kinzo is a unique game concept, similar to bingo but in which multimedia sound and light shows on wall screens and illuminated ceiling fixtures add to the excitement. The SBQ launched the Kinzo pilot project after figures demonstrated that bingo was losing steam in Québec, as a way of improving the finances non-profit organizations that rely on bingo for funding. Additionally, the SBQ has created a regional investment fund to develop the bingo industry.
On November 19, 2010, Loto-Québec opened its Espacejeux online gaming site for preregistration. The site went live on December 1, offering adult players eight types of poker, table games like baccarat, sic bo and red dog, as well as a variety of blackjack, roulette games and sports betting.
Since early 2011, Quebec poker fans have been able to compete with players from British Columbia. Other games will be added to the Espacejeux offering as time goes by.
- "Un casino flambant neuf" (in French). Radio-Canada. 24 June 2009.
- "Loto-Québec and the Cirque du Soleil propose the establishment of a world-class entertainment complex in Montréal" (Press release) (in French). Cirque du Soleil. 24 June 2005.
- Comité interministériel chargé de l'évaluation du projet de relocalisation du Casino de Montréal (March 2006), Le rapport (PDF) (in French)
- "Loto-Québec abandonne le projet" (in French). Radio-Canada. 10 March 2006.
- 2006 Annual Report, Loto-Québec
- "Recours collectif contre loto-Québec: Une cause de santé publique & d'éthique sociale" (in French). Archived from the original on 13 May 2009.
- Kathleen Lévesque (17 March 2009). "Loto-Québec rénovera le Casino de Montréal au coût de 100 millions". Le Devoir (in French).
- "Loto-Québec reçoit le plus haut niveau de certification internationale en matière de jeu responsable" (Press release) (in French). Loto-Québec. 19 May 2009. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009.
- "Le gouvernement autorise la Société des loteries de Québec à offrir le jeu en ligne" (Press release) (in French). Loto-Québec. 3 February 2010. Archived from the original on 3 February 2010.