On February 22, we learned that a gaming hall project at the Bell Center was in talks between Loto-Québec and Groupe CH, owner of the Canadian hockey club. For the neighborhood tables whose mission is to contribute to the improvement of living conditions in the neighborhoods around the planned site, this project raises serious concerns.

Mr. Legault, installing 350 video lottery machines (VLT) in the heart of downtown Montreal would have disastrous consequences for the population, particularly that of Peter-McGill, Little Burgundy and other neighborhoods in the Southwest, which are part of the vulnerability zone identified by Public Health. With this project, Loto-Québec will increase its revenues on the backs of the people most at risk and this is completely unacceptable.

The harmful effects of video lottery terminals have been demonstrated time and time again. These are devices that lead to the development of gambling pathologies for about 16% of players, a risk that is far too high. A study conducted in 2019 showed that four out of five dollars inserted into it come from these same players1. Note, moreover, that there is no daily betting limit in these devices in Quebec.

Even by reducing the number of these devices in a few bars in the area, their significant concentration in the heart of downtown Montreal poses a significant risk for the general population and particularly for people in vulnerable situations.

It is for these reasons, as well as for crime control, that in 1993 the Casino de Montréal was isolated on Île Notre-Dame. It was a societal choice! It should also be remembered that the project to move the Casino to Peel Basin in Pointe-Saint-Charles in 2006 was abandoned, following strong local mobilization and government reports confirming the impacts of such a project: social and gambling-related health issues, public safety issues, automobile traffic, etc. The devastating public health notice even said at the time that the sector was the worst place in Montreal⁠2 to move the casino and its slot machines, close to the disadvantaged populations of the surrounding neighborhoods. Why come back with such an idea 17 years later?

Mr. Legault, as you said so well in September 2016: “We are all responsible for having kept the famous video lotto machines in bars for far too long. We know today the human tragedies: fathers, mothers who go to ruin while playing.⁠3 »

For all these reasons, Mr. Prime Minister, it is time to bring Loto-Québec to order and to state directly that this project is not subject to any social acceptability.