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Loto-Québec closes land-based facilities as Covid-19 cases rise


Canadian provincial gambling operator Loto-Québec is to close a number of its land-based gaming venues with Québec facing a rise in novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases.

From midnight October 1, the Casino de Montreal and the Salon de jeux de Quebec will have to close until October 28, however lottery sales are not affected by the new guidelines and will continue across the operator’s retail network.

Video lottery machines (VLTs), network bingo and Kinzo in the metropolitan community of Montreal, Chaudière-Appalaches and the Capitale-Nationale region (except Charlevoix and Portneuf) will also remain closed for the period.

VLTs and Kinzo activities will remain open in other regions, while network bingo will be offered in the evenings only.

All its other gaming premises, including the Casino de Charlevoix, the Casino du Lac-Leamy, the Casino de Mont-Tremblant, the Salon de jeux de Trois-Rivières, the Hilton Lac-Leamy and the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu will remain open.

The measures have been brought in to protect Québecois players, with travel between provinces being discouraged by the authorities, in order to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The operator increased its focus on online sales in March, after retail operations were first suspended in response to the pandemic. It halted the sale of tickets and also deactivated its sales terminals at retailers and in kiosks operated by non-profit organisations.

The decision came after the Québec government ordered the closure of a wide range of businesses and public spaces including bars, cinemas, interior mall stores, sample counters, gyms and libraries.

The reopening of sales in its retail network began in May, as it opened sales terminals at retailers with an outdoor entrance. However, ticket sales at retailers located in shopping centres, including lottery kiosks, remained suspended

In September, the operator published its annual results, showing that revenue for the year ending 31 March 2020 dipped by 3.1% to CAD$2.74bn (US$2.08bn) and profit declined to $1.35bn.

However, Loto-Québec said both figures remained above target despite the effects of the pandemic in the final weeks of its fiscal year.