The number of registrations for Loto-Québec’s self-exclusion program for online gambling increased significantly during the pandemic.
Posted May 16
Burdened by the closure of casinos and gambling halls, store registrations still struggle to return to pre-pandemic level, reveal data obtained through the Act in compliance with access to documents held by public bodies and with the protection of personal data.
But no matter where players sign up for this program, described by experts as a last resort, their numbers have never been higher since its creation by Loto-Québec in 1993.
For example, the online component of Loto-Québec’s self-exclusion program has seen its popularity skyrocket. No fewer than 7,353 Quebecers asked to be banned from Crown Corporation’s web platforms in 2020-2021, far more than 4,276 a year earlier and 3,507 in 2018-2019, the last full pre-pandemic year. Since then, their number has declined slightly in 2021-2022, to 6,231, although data obtained from The print will end on February 18, 2022.
Meanwhile, the opposite trend has been observed in gambling establishments across the province. In 2018-2019, each institution registered an average of 1,483 enrollments in the program. This figure declined slightly in 2019-20, to 1,431, before dropping sharply in 2020-2021, to 111. Institutional registrations have since risen to an average of 391. Most players choose to register across establishments. , Loto-Québec specifies.
By comparison, in 2017-2018, 3,298 people asked to be banned from Loto-Québec’s online gaming platforms. An average of 1,420 Quebecers had also done so directly in an establishment, in casinos in Montreal, Lac-Leamy, Charlevoix or Mont-Tremblant, or in gambling halls in Quebec or Trois-Rivières.
All categories put together, the program’s popularity has not been denied even by the arrival of COVID-19 and the start of subsequent confinements. According to data provided by Loto-Québec, 7,429 people signed up this year (which ended March 31), just short of the peak of 7,480 in 2020-2021. This is a 41% increase over the last pre-pandemic year, 2028-2019, when 5,290 customers asked Loto-Québec to deny access to its sites.
No subscription targets
According to Loto-Québec, the marked increase in enrollments shows that the program is “working well”. As for the increase in online gambling registrations, it is explained by the temporary closure of the Crown corporation’s establishments, indicates the spokesman of Loto-Québec, Renaud Dugas.
During the pandemic, some customers turned to lotoquebec.com when our factories closed. The number of people who asked to be self-excluded from the online gambling site followed the same trend.
Renaud Dugas, spokesperson for Loto-Quebec
The same goes for the decline in plant registrations. In addition to the Crown Corporation offices in Montreal and Quebec City and some designated service centers, these are the only places where registration is possible.
Upon registration, all self-excluded customers are systematically offered to receive a “Game: Help and Referrals” call to inform them of the help resources available to support them in their process. Most customers who turn to self-exclusion also withdraw from all establishments, not just one.
Loto-Québec specifies that it does not have a goal to increase or decrease the number of registrations for its self-exclusion program. However, the government company aims for a high rate of self-excluded players to participate in the support services offered by “Jeu: aide etreflection”, a telephone information, referral and support service on compulsive gambling, without specifying the entity.
Is it time for exams?
Experts consulted by The print they are not surprised by the steady increase in self-exclusions for online gambling, but believe that it is time for Loto-Québec to rethink its approach to prevention.
“There has definitely been a migration from offline play to online play [durant la pandémie]. […] With more people, we will end up with more people proportionally than they want [s’autoexclure] says Sylvia Kairouz, professor of research in the study of gambling at Concordia University, who remains “a bit critical” of the Loto-Québec program.
These are people who are already in desperate situations. The self-exclusion program really comes as a last resort. He is good, but [la] prevention, we want it to happen even before self-exclusion.
Sylvia Kairouz, Concordia University Gambling Research Chair
An opinion shared by Jean-François Biron, a researcher at the Montreal Regional Department of Public Health, according to which Loto-Quebec could do more to publicize the program.
“People who self-exclude are really the tip of the iceberg. It’s a good thing it’s okay. Is there a way to make it known more? Yes, “she says.
The growing role of online gambling worries Sylvia Kairouz, however, to some extent. “If the migration to online gaming is transitory, or to pass the time [pendant la pandémie], it is not a public health problem. ”
In addition to being “more accessible,” online gaming also pushes customers to play “more intensely,” especially in a pandemic environment, where they are more isolated, he explains. This is why Loto-Québec’s self-exclusion program deserves to be dusted off, in her opinion.
“When we are in physical places, we are in the presence of the players, there are many more possibilities to intervene, while online it depends on the good will of the player”, explains M.myself Kairouz. The challenges of online gambling in terms of prevention are enormous. Everything we give at the moment is very limited. A player must go to the site to register, when he should have a way to limit his amounts [et] its playing time.
With the collaboration of William Leclerc, The print
The ABCs of the self-exclusion program?
Introduced in 1993, self-exclusion is a voluntary program whereby a player agrees to no longer frequent Loto-Québec gambling establishments (casinos or gambling halls). The player then authorizes Loto-Québec to take steps to deny him access to his establishments. Presenting himself in the designated places, the client is photographed for identification purposes and chooses the duration of his self-exclusion.