Is Espacejeux Worth the Gamble?

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Canada is currently experiencing a bit of a boom period in online gambling, worth an estimated $4 billion dollars annually, most of which flows offshore to international online casinos. If you are new to the concept, you may be tempted by friend’s tales of success at various online casinos. Online slots in particular are receiving massive amounts of play throughout Canada and for good reason. Online slots are really easy to get into, they don’t require a great deal of skill or experience to win significant sums off them, and they’re a lot of fun.

If you live in Quebec you may have already heard about Espacejeux.com, the province’s answer to the massive influx of international online casino gambling sites. Keeping it local may be the best idea ever, or it could be the worst. After all, it must be a positive thing to have online gambling revenue stay in Quebec, but is that enough incentive to play at a poor or underpaying casino?

What is Espacejeux.com Exactly?

Espacejeux.com is essentially an online gambling portal set up and managed by Loto-Quebec, the province’s official lottery corporation. The website looks and functions more or less like other online casinos which are based outside of Canada. You can get to play a range of online casino games, particularly online slots, ‘EZ Games’, which are a bit like fun arcade style gambling games, table games including versions of blackjack and other popular casino table games. The site also features dedicated pages for poker, bingo and sports betting.

How Much Does Espacejeux.com Profit Quebecers?

According to Loto-Quebec, for fiscal year 2017 which ended in March, online casino revenue from Espacejeux.com was up a substantial 28.6% to $45.8 million. Profits overall were flat but the growth is encouraging. In Dec 2015, Lotto Quebec came to the realization that the amount of money being taken as profit from each game, most notably sports betting Mise-o-jeu, was excessive and they were driven to reduce the cut they took in order to better compete with international online casino operators. The result of this decision has seen broad expansion of online revenues but has placed pressure on profits. The drive to realize government profits taken from Espacejeux.com has further led to the provincial government to introduce and pass Bill C-74 in May 2016 which plans to ban access to all international online casinos at Quebec’s digital border. The Bill has been challenged by various parties on constitutional grounds given that Telecom is generally regulated by the federal government along with the CRTC and is widely expected to be struck down prior to implementation by the Quebec Superior Court.

How Does it Compare to Other Online Casinos?

Of course Expacejeux does its best to compete head to head with top international online casinos. This is apparent in the overall design and layout of their website. Cool colours combined with plenty of progressive jackpot banners, latest jackpot winners segments and plenty of eye candy. However, does it really have what it takes to beat top online casinos and be the best possible online gambling option for you?

Player trust is a key differentiator for Espacejeux.com but top international casinos are also licensed with strict gaming authorities like the UK Gambling Commission and are audited by respected companies like eCOGRA. Online security is taken seriously at both groups but Loto-Quebec cannot keep up with these international companies, due to scale and expertise, when considering the latest encryption standards and security frameworks.

There are plenty of online gamblers experienced in the casino industry that will tell you that it is a much better idea to avoid provincial lottery corporation online gambling sites. There are quite a few of these in Canada, including BCLC in British Columbia, OLG in Ontario and a few others. However, while there are certainly a range of slots, table games, bingo and other gambling options available, they are nowhere near the depth, quality and range of top international online sites. Add to that the fact that the payout or average Return to Player (RTP) percentages at provincial lottery/casino sites like Espacejeux.com are significantly lower than international online casinos, it can be a tough argument to justify playing your hard earned money there.

What is ‘RTP’?

RTP is an acronym used throughout the casino industry and it stands for ‘Return to Player’. In other words, the RTP is used to determine how much a given slot or table game will pay back to players on average. RTP’s are expressed as a percentage and the higher the percentage, the more that game will return in winnings to the players. To better understand how RTP percentages are calculated, let’s pretend that a game pays out 9 coins every time you win. If you decide to bet one coin over ten rounds and you win only one time, you would’ve won 9 coins and would have bet 10 coins – giving the RTP percentage of that machine 90%. This also means that the house or casino has a 10% advantage, also known as the ‘house edge’. RTP percentages are calculated using large amounts of data to give an expected average for that game given the settings and based on a random number generator.

How to use RTP’s as a Way to Find the Best Games Online?

Knowing the RTP of any given slot or other casino game is a great way to figure out which casinos or games you should play at and which ones you should avoid. Now, perhaps rather controversially, provincial lottery corporations like Espacejeux.com generally offer lower RTP percentages than international online casinos do.

This is thought to be because their market is typically smaller than the international casinos and it is thus assumed that they take a bigger slice of your winnings but they are also trying to take advantage of the fact that they are a trusted source for gambling. For instance, take a game like Leprechauns Luck, offered by Espacejeux.com, which has an RTP of around 91.3% versus a game like Mega Joker, offered by top international online casinos and with an RTP of 99% – a massive difference.

What is the Future of Espacejeux.com?

As opposed to land based casinos like those in Montreal, online casinos are poised to grow rapidly. The Quebec government has made it clear that they want to give Espacejeux.com an anti-competitive advantage by introducing Bill C-74. The clear take away from this is that even Loto-Quebec is aware that international online casinos offer a better experience and chance of winning than Espacejeux.com and they must resort to, perhaps unconstitutional, steps to make the operation profitable for the tax paying Quebecer. This is not sustainable going forward and there either needs to be federal regulation to the online gambling industry or a more competitive approach going forward to keep Espacejeux.com in business.

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