Loto-Québec has been criticized across several of the Province’s media outlets including La Presse and the Montreal Gazette for a promotion aimed at soliciting students from all of Québec’s 15 universities to its online gambling website EspaceJeux.com.
The specific promotion entails a University Poker Championship league sponsored by Loto-Québec’s EspaceJeux. Students from different schools compete in a series of online tournaments hosted on EspaceJeux for a chance to be one of four finalists representing each school at a Live Final to take place at the Casino de Montréal for a share of $20,000 cash prizes including tournament packages to the 2013 World Series of Poker events.
The criticism that Loto-Québec is targeting young gamblers is being fueled by several things. Among them, promotional posters being displayed on University campuses across Québec promoting the tournament along with a chance to proudly represent one’s university at a live final at Casino de Montréal. Complaints also stem from the fact that EspaceJeux are enticing students with $25 in free cash to gamble on EspaceJeux.com.
Some universities have elected to take down the posters on their campuses.
The contest itself is completely free, so EspaceJeux are not requiring the students to pay for anything.
EspaceJeux does have several safeguards in place to ensure that those who sign up are first of all of legal age to gamble and that a customer is verified before being allowed to play online. The most popular verification method used is to supply a credit card on the site which is validated by EspaceJeux. There are other safeguards in place as well for customers who do wish to deposit and play online including the ability to allow customers to set limits as to how much money they can wager daily and the ability to self-exclude themselves.
The University Poker Championship is only a subset of Loto-Québec’s overall strategic plan announced in 2010 where the Crown Corporation indicated plans to create new products and initiatives to appeal to a younger audience of gamblers in order to increase their declining per capita revenues. According to that report, annual gambling spending per adult in Québec fell from $696 to $659 per year from 2003 to 2009, whereas the overall National average in Canada went up from $797 to $810 during that same period, a cause for concern for Loto-Québec.