Quebec’s government has been in an ongoing quest to balance its budget and over time they have fought against some pretty important adversaries. A lot of social groups have protested against the government’s aggressive austerity measures. And now they are taking on another source of lost revenue, online gambling.
Their main problem is the fact that online gambling sites are in direct competition with their state-owned gambling company, Loto-Quebec. They are mad that their main online gaming portal has only 20% market share. The rest is dominated by outside companies based in the US or offshore countries like the Cayman Islands.
They’ve declared that with their current business model they will not be able to increase this share in any major way. So instead of creating a more competitive online gambling interface, they’re using their state power to influence the market in their favour. Buried in their 620 pages 2015 budget are measures which force internet service providers to block access to a list of “illegal” websites compiled by, you’ve guessed it, Loto-Quebec. By this system, any company who does not fall under their control in one way or another is completely illegal.
A lot of these “illegal” sites have said that they are willing to work within a new legal framework and coexist with them. Only time will tell if the state will deem this monopoly that Loto-Quebec is trying to enforce is entirely legal. Until then private operators will need to keep looking over their shoulders and wonder if their businesses might be closed down at some point.