Whether it’s the freshest new releases of slots with brand new game mechanics, bingo rooms, or card games dating back centuries, casino gaming is in rude health. This is true of both the real world and online sectors, with the former bouncing back after the horrendous pandemic lockdown era, which coincided with tourism falling off a cliff. However, this is far from the only challenge brick-and-mortar casinos face; another can be strike action. Loto-Quebec, including Casino de Montreal, has recently encountered this problem, which has affected services substantially.
Loto-Quebec Workers Strike
Gambling in Canada is regulated on a provincial basis, with Quebec’s brick-and-mortar casinos and lottery being operated by Loto-Quebec. In June 2023, around 1,700 Loto-Quebec workers voted to go on strike. This followed what the union’s President, Riccardo Scopelleti, described as an impasse in negotiations with the government crown corporation.
The demands for pay are that pay per hour should keep pace with inflation and have an extra $1. By definition, pay at a rate above inflation increases the real terms costs and, as Loto-Quebec has stated, also exceeds what non-union employees have been granted. The establishments affected by the strike include Casino de Montreal, located within the bounds of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve,, which annually hosts the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal. The casino is also conveniently close to numerous museums and not far from the city’s Botanical Gardens and Insectarium where hundreds of different species can be seen.
Online Casino Alternatives
The entertainment offered at online casinos is highly similar to that available at real-world equivalents. However, some major perks associated with online casino sites make them well worth considering even by players who regularly visit brick-and-mortar casinos. Not only are they open every moment, and so players can indulge in casino games without worrying about traffic, travel time, or opening hours, but they also have a lower house edge. The reasoning behind this is that the costs of an online casino are significantly lower (no rental or heating costs, for example), so the same degree of profit can be achieved with a lower house edge, making online casinos highly attractive to players. It’s a piece of cake to find legitimate operators in the province when seeking the best online casinos in Quebec, as independent third-party review sites compile objective and reliable reviews that cut down drastically on the time it takes to find a great place to play. Whether it’s the latest slots or the variety of live dealer tables a player is after, checking trustworthy reviews makes assessing online casinos nice and quick. Another perk of playing online is that such casinos are inherently more resilient to certain real-world concerns, whether a pandemic or strike action.
The location of the Casino de Montreal, within the limits of the F1 circuit, is particularly ironic as the strike action was launched on the eve of the Grand Prix. While Loto-Quebec has stated, it had made two offers to the union already Scopelleti responded that negotiations have been going on for a year. He added that the union wanted to return to the negotiating table and pointed out that Loto-Quebec has enjoyed a solid year. The executive vice president received a 34% pay rise during this time. Loto-Quebec described the strike by the CSN union as disappointing, adding that the union’s demands are more than double what other non-union members within the firm received.
Impact on Casino de Montreal
The labor dispute began in June 2023,, and at the time of writing (late August), it remains ongoing. While this has substantially impacted Loto-Quebec and Casino de Montreal, the casino operates with reduced services.
The operating hours of Casino de Montreal are currently 2 pm to 2 am, and slot machines remain accessible except those on Level C and in the Pavillon du Québec. The Zone is closed, but the OK Poker room is open,, and reservation via telephone is up and running. Both gaming tables and electronic gaming terminals are open, though the only electronic gaming terminals available are those without a host. Visitors are also advised that backpacks are not permitted within the casino.
The cash desk remains open normally, and TITO vouchers can still be exchanged for cash at the Casino Privilèges counters. Lovers of fine food should be aware that L’Instant is open from 4 pm to 10 pm. Le Jardin patio and Le Roi bar are closed, with Dame de Cœur open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m., and High Limits Lounge is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bar service remains unavailable within the gaming area during the dispute. Free shows and the Cabaret du Casino lineup are unaffected, save that there is no accompanying bar service. In short, while the casino is open, the bar situation and, to a lesser extent, gaming options are compromised by the strike action. Contrasting this with the stability of the best Quebec online casinos helps explain why online gaming is growing in Canada.
Future Prospects of a Resolution
On 16 August, months after the strike action began, Loto-Quebec issued a call for negotiations to resume between itself and CSN. The corporation asserted it was committed to serious and constructive discussions while simultaneously describing union desires for a pay increase of 24% over 3 years as unrealistic. At the time of writing (13 days after the relevant press release), the firm and the union have yet to reach an agreement.
The impasse between Loto-Quebec and the union workers has been going on for months and has settled into a prolonged stalemate. Services continue curtailed, and entrenched opinions mean neither side will be keen to back down.