Last week, Loto-Québec reported that it was suspending operations in Montérégie, Centre-du-Québec and Capitale-Nationale as of last Friday. This implies the closing of the Charlevoix Casino, which reopened this past July after it seemed that COVID-19 may have been brought under control. Also, all video lottery terminals are offline, and Loto-Québec has also agreed to cut Kinzo rooms, also in places that are not specifically threatened by coronavirus.
Because of COVID-19, Quebec was forced to put Gatineau and some areas of the Outaouais region on “red alert.” This implies the closing of every casino, bar or gym across Montreal and Quebec City, as well as a ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings. The Casino de Mont-Tremblant of Loto-Québec in Mont-Tremblant, however, and its VLTs in other parts of Quebec will remain free. How long the red warning will stay active is not clear.
Due to COVID-19, land-based casinos are being decimated; however, online operations will assist those providing the alternative where permitted. One of the lucky ones is Loto-Québec, and as a result of the current global pandemic, its online gaming segment increased 29 percent. It remains behind others who, like PlayNow in British Columbia, have seen stronger progress, but it is at least moving in the right direction.
In the U.S., where online gaming has been accepted, similar patterns have been seen. Although the physical casinos of states are unable to provide the tax revenue that governments have relied on year after year, some states that have ample intelligence to allow online gaming are at least able to derive some income from gambling. Others, who have allowed private perception to interfere with the ability to find solutions critically, can only sit back and suffer in silence.
Loto-Québec would have to do without Casino de Montréal, Casino du Lac-Leamy, Salon de jeux de Québec, Salon de jeux de Trois-Rivières, Hilton Lac-Leamy Hotel, and VLTs in Greater Montréal, Chaudière-Appalaches, Capitale-Nationale, Mauricie, City of Gatineau and Collines-de-l’Outaouais regional county municipality, all of which are closed following the new red alert before COVID-19 is stopped. It also suggests that a number of workers may face financial pressure, with well over 1,000 workers possibly looking at being furloughed.