Loto-Quebec, the provincial regulatory body for gambling in Quebec, is looking into the possibility of issuing licenses to online poker sites that have previously offered their services to Canadians without Canadian-government approval, according to The Huffington Post.
The information was released on Friday that reveals Loto-Quebec's interest in licensing online poker sites so that they can get a piece of the income. This comes hot on the heels of news that Montreal-based Amaya Gaming has acquired Rational Group for $4.9 billion a little over a week ago.
Some questions have been raised about how Amaya Gaming's newly-acquired assets like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker will continue to be able to operate in the Canadian market where such activity is not permitted within the Criminal Code. We recently published an editorial on the subject, arguing that such sites will not be exiting the country due to this deal. This development from Loto-Quebec shows interest from the government in taking action to help these poker sites become licensed and fully legal rather than shutting them down.
As quoted by The Huffington Post, a spokesperson for Loto-Quebec said "sans le respect du Code criminel canadien, nous cherchons maintenant à voir s'il n'y aurait pas des alternatives pour nous" (translation: "in respect to the Criminal Code, we are currently looking to see if there are any alternatives for us"), suggesting that there may be ways that the current laws are worded that allow for provincial bodies like Loto-Quebec to issue licenses for online gaming.
It is still early in the process, but Amaya Gaming was specifically mentioned as someone who Loto-Quebec seeks to license. The two organizations already have a relationship due to Amaya Gaming supplying games for EspaceJeaux's online casino. This would allow Amaya Gaming to operate their newly-acquired poker rooms without any concern about the grey market online gaming currently exists in, and also allows the province of Quebec to get a piece of this very lucrative business.
We will keep you updated as this story develops.