Loto-Quebec which is owned and run by the government of Quebec has exclusive rights over Quebec’s online gambling industry. Loto-Quebec recently announced that it was in the process of preparing a blacklist of all unlicensed online gambling websites in Quebec after which the list will be sent to “Régie des Courses et des Jeux du Québec” (RACJ), which is the online gambling regulator.
The blacklist will then be circulated to all internet service providers (ISP) in Quebec who will be required to block the all these unlicensed websites. The Quebec government approved a bill last year that prevents unlicensed operators from functioning in Quebec. The bill was approved as Loto-Quebec had only a ten percent market share of all online gambling revenue and offshore operators were profiting from the remaining ninety percent.
Legislators believed that this new bill will not only help Loto-Quebec to capture a significant share of the market but the blocking of unlicensed websites will protect online poker players in Quebec. The government had discussed passing such regulations for a number of years which resulted in a number of gambling providers such as Ladbrokes exiting the Canadian market.
Amaya Inc owned PokerStars, the biggest online poker website in the world is one of these offshore providers and will now have to make a decision to get blacklisted and pay hefty fines or workout a possible deal with Loto-Quebec to continue to offer services. The new law states that once an operator is blacklisted, it has up to six months to work out a deal with Loto-Quebec.
Canadian based Amaya Inc has been in discussions with Loto-Quebec for the last 24 months about a possible partnership but no official decision has been made so far. Amaya Inc had supported the new bill as it believed that the new bill would support consumer rights and contribute to Loto-Quebec’s revenue.
In a statement, Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications said “As the global leader in online gaming, Amaya would happily expand its existing partnership with Loto-Quebec to go through the necessary process to become an online solutions supplier accredited by Loto-Quebec and to help define the future online gaming guidelines.”
PokerStars will be forced to enter into a partnership with Loto-Quebec or exit the market for good as there are a number of ramifications for PokerStars should it decide to operate as an unlisted operator. New Jersey gaming law prevents the state from issuing an online poker license to any operator who operates in a black market in any part of the world.