For almost two months now, a major strike has been affecting the casino world in Quebec. This has led to many wondering whether this action could impact the online casino sector in Canada.
Approximately 1,700 employees from Quebec casinos started a strike at the end of June, demanding higher pay, and it seems there’s still no end in sight. Negotiations between the discontented employees of Quebec casinos and their employer, Loto-Québec, remain at a standstill. This situation has been ongoing since June 23, 2023, and doesn’t seem to be progressing.
The conflict began at the start of June when employees of the Casino de Montréal threatened to strike over the weekend of the Montreal F1 Grand Prix. They were joined by employees from the gambling establishments in Gatineau, Mont-Tremblant, and Charlevoix. According to the Casino de Montréal-CSN union representing the workers, wage disparities are the issue. More specifically, union leaders demand wage increases that match the rising cost of living—a common cause for strike action worldwide of late.
Loto-Québec’s annual report for 2022-23 has added fuel to the fire. The state-owned company displayed record figures, particularly in the casino sector. The company generated revenues of 1.1 billion dollars, an increase of 444 million dollars, or 67.6% compared to the previous year.
These figures were made public just four days after the Casino de Montréal workers warned of a potential strike. The final decision for this strike was made when the executive vice president of Loto-Québec, Kevin G. Taylor, saw his annual salary jump from $375,461 to $504,498. This increase firmly convinced employees to go on strike, and many feel rightly so.
In Quebec, casino opening hours have, of course, been adjusted as a result of the ongoing strike action, meaning residents now have fewer hours in which to visit their local casino and enjoy the games. The ideal way for Quebecers to continue to entertain themselves is to turn to online casinos, which are available 24/7. As most of these sites are not associated with Loto-Québec, they are still operational and are not affected by the strikes in physical venues. This new movement is therefore likely to have a positive impact on the growth of the online gambling sector, which will probably see a new wave of adoption and new users in the coming months, it has already been booming across the country lately, most notably in Ontario.
Crypto-based gambling platforms have also been experiencing massive growth in recent years—it’s not unreasonable to expect that platforms like megadice.com will further benefit from the lack of land-based casinos in Quebec at the time. The issues at the heart of the strike action, like skyrocketing profits for casino operators, could very well lead to more and more turning to these provably fair sites instead. Crypto casinos—which are accessible online 24/7 and legal in Quebec—operate on blockchain technology, meaning players can verify that every spin of the slots is fair and that the machine is not rigged. This and their easy accessibility in times of strikes are just two of the benefits users feel from these sites. Although figures are difficult to verify, it’s safe to say from the number of these sites available that they’re showing no signs of slowing down.
Although online platforms are still in full operation, several areas of activity in land-based casinos are affected by the strike. Gamblers will still have access to games of chance, but many restaurants have been forced to close temporarily or only offer takeaway dishes, somewhat detracting from the experience of visiting the casino. Furthermore, the casinos’ nightclubs and other entertainment venues are also on hold. The casino hotels remain open, but the services offered are limited, such as bellman services, for instance. Essentially, the service is operating at the bare minimum rather than providing the full, luxury experience many of us associate with a night at the casino. It leads us to the question, why visit the casino for a minimal experience when you can play the same games from the comfort of home online?
For now, no one knows when this strike will end and if management will yield to union demands. The pressure exerted by affected companies that depend on the activity of the concerned casinos should also play a significant role in the decisions to be made. As the debate has already been going on for close to two months without much progress, it’s fair to say that there’s a still long way to go before we can expect any kind of resolution from both sides.
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