Loto-Québec finally decided to withdraw its gaming hall project in downtown Montreal on Tuesday, after having taken note of a second opinion from public health on the subject, the day after a first unfavorable opinion.
“The conditions are not met to ensure the success of the process,” asserts the state-owned company in a press release published late Tuesday afternoon.
Without citing its content, Loto-Québec indicates having taken note of the opinion of the General Directorate of Public Health before making its decision which occurs “despite the provisions allowing (the) realization” of the project.
The gaming lounge project at the Bell Center had already been the subject of an unfavorable opinion from the Montreal Public Health Department (DRSP) made public on Monday. Loto-Québec said it was awaiting the opinion of the National Directorate of Public Health (DNSP), the higher body, which was still being drafted on Monday.
The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond as to the exact conclusion of its opinion and whether it will eventually be made public.
A “missed appointment”
If Loto-Québec claims to “respect” the advice of Public Health, it also says it is “convinced that this is a missed appointment”. “Recognized responsible marketing practices, i.e. a varied entertainment offering promoting socialization and supervised in a safe and responsible manner, would also have been put in place,” she continues.
The gaming lounge project was to be carried out on the premises of the Taverne 1909 restaurant, a four-story building adjoining the Bell Centre. The state company wanted to install 350 slot machines from the Montreal Casino.
At the same time, Loto-Québec proposed to withdraw around 500 devices spread across the island of Montreal.
However, in its unfavorable opinion made public on Monday, the Montreal DRSP decided that the project as presented was likely to reach and introduce a significant number of vulnerable players to the game.
“We are convinced that we must review the model of our land offering so that it better responds to current challenges and needs. Doing nothing is not a solution,” affirms Loto-Québec in its press release sent on Tuesday. Reducing our offer without offering an alternative to meet player demand is not good either. »
The DRSP was also concerned about the “normalization” of gaming associated with the opening of a gaming lounge linked to the environment of the Montreal Canadiens, in the context of a partnership between Loto-Québec and the CH Group.
Loto-Québec also recognized on Tuesday this argument linked to its association with the CH Group, which it describes as “a brand as well known as it is appreciated”. “Remember that the CH Group is one of the only professional teams that has not associated itself with illegal gambling operators. »
Loto-Québec concludes by affirming that its future “is far from relying solely on the Bell Center project.”