The Quebec Online Gaming Coalition (CQJL), a recently-established online sports betting lobbying group, received a massive amount of support this week from some of the biggest sports leagues in North America. According to the French-language Quebec newspaper Le Soleil, major executives from the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Canadian Football League (CFL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) have all voiced their support for legal online sports betting in Quebec.
As big a move as this is, other reports and past statements from Loto-Québec have many people feeling sceptical. To many, it is unlikely that there will be legal online sports betting sites in Quebec any time soon.
- The NBA, CFL, and MLS all have urged Quebec to open its sports betting market.
- The CQJL is made up of the biggest sports betting sites in Canada and the US, including DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM.
- NBA, CFL, and MLS support for legal sports betting in Quebec is not enough to change Loto-Québec’s mind.
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Big leagues throw support behind legal sports betting in Quebec
According to Le Soleil’s bombshell report, three of the biggest sports leagues in North America have formally jumped into the fray regarding legal online sports betting in Quebec. The NBA, CFL, and MLS all have urged Quebec to open its sports betting market.
MLS commissioner, Don Garber, is quoted as having said that legal online sports betting in Quebec is a model that will allow MLS and other sports in Quebec to increase “fan engagement in a responsible manner, with the highest levels of integrity and strong partnerships.”
Garber specifically stressed the importance of Quebec opening its market soon and striking while the iron is hot. “Soccer is the sport attracting the most sports betting in the world,” and “international licensed betting companies are now focusing on markets in the United States and North America,” said the MLS Commissioner.
Michael Bass, the NBA’s Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, told Le Soleil “if the Quebec government were to create an open and regulated market, the NBA would support this structure, in the same way it supports Ontario’s competitive market.”
Ontario being mentioned is no mistake by Bass. The province of Ontario is currently the only one in Canada with a full legal sports betting licensing regime that exists alongside publicly-run lottery sportsbooks. One man who has been trying to change that for years is CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie.
Ambrosie, who is also quoted in the Le Soleil article, said of the Quebec sports betting market that he urges “Quebec legislators to fully explore the benefits of introducing a regulated playing environment.”
CQJL already backed by big business
While it is undoubtedly big news whenever organisations as big as the NBA, CFL, and MLS come together, the CQJL already includes an impressive list of financial backers and sports betting heavy hitters.
The CQJL is made up of the biggest sports betting sites in Canada and the US, including DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM. They have come together with one thing in mind; lobbying for legal sports betting in Quebec.
They want a legal market in Quebec that allows private operators who can accept single-game sports wagers.
The CQJL has surely already been putting a lot of pressure on Quebec legislators. Time will tell whether support from the NBA, CFL, and MLS will help their cause. Most people are not too hopeful, and for good reason.
Why this probably will not change Loto-Québec’s mind
Legal sports betting in Ontario has been widely popular and extremely profitable for the province. Despite this, and pressure from outside lobbying groups and sports leagues, it does not seem like Quebec will adopt an Ontario-like sports betting system any time soon.
Loto-Québec spokesperson Renaud Dugas responded to the news of the NBA, CFL, and MLS’s support for legal sports betting in Quebec with fighting words as opposed to open arms.
Dugas told Le Soleil that the leagues supporting legal sports betting in Quebec should “question themselves about the [CQJL’s] true intentions.” The Loto-Québec representative also questioned the legal status of many CQJL members. Dugas said it was “peculiar” for the major sports leagues to be supporting a group containing members who currently “illegally offer games to Quebecers.”
If Renaud Dugas’ words are anything to go by, NBA, CFL, and MLS support for legal sports betting in Quebec is not enough to change Loto-Québec’s mind.
Noah Strang is an experienced sports writer having covered many professional sports leagues across North America. He has worked extensively covering the NHL and been accredited media for the Vegas Golden Knights in the past. He’s also known as one of the best iGaming writers across Canada with extensive experience covering the development of legal sports betting across the country. He was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, and enjoys taking advantage of the coastline. When not writing, you can find him watching whatever sport is on TV or playing pickup basketball.