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Quebec to Offer Online Gambling

Quebecers could access state-sponsored internet gambling by year's end

Loto-Quebec plans to offer Quebec residents online poker and sports betting via an official website that the organization hopes to launch by the end of 2010. The Quebec cabinet has approved the plan, hoping to compete with other internet gambling sites. The plan would create a portal for Loto-Quebec, B.C. Lottery Corp. and Atlantic Lottery Corp.

Creating a portal would generate enough cash from the combined provinces to make online gambling a financially sound decision for the lottery corporations.

“Each jurisdiction protects its fiscality,” Loto-Quebec CEO Alain Cousineau told the Montreal Gazette. “The revenue generated by Quebecers will return to Quebec.”

The lottery corporations plan to raise their betting limits from $120 to $9,999 to compete with other online gambling organizations.

Some critics question if the new portal will be able to compete with other online gambling sites.

“I question whether there will be sufficient liquidity to make the site popular and therefore profitable,” gaming lawyer Michael Lipton told the Gazette. “The operators out there are miles ahead of these new entrants in terms of the number of games they offer and the liquidity. Some sites may have 20 million or 30 million players and poker games going on 24 hours a day.”

At a recent press conference in Montreal, Cousineau and Raymond Bachand, the province’s finance minister, said the state-sponsored gambling portal would provide legitimacy to the industry and combat illegal internet gambling websites.

“Inasmuch as this is a sector that is developing exponentially in an illegal way, Loto-Quebec is being given the responsibility of working to redirect this to a site that is secure, legal and trustworthy,” Bachand said during the press conference. “I believe this to be an efficient way of fighting the underground economy.”

Loto-Quebec has not yet selected a software developer for the website.

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