Saturday, October 02, 2004

Taking away temptation

Lotto Quebec announced on Friday that it has pulled games of the Quebec Junior Hockey League from its sports lottery in the province. The lottery corporation received a fair amount of opposition to the idea of wagering on a sport, which has 31% of its participants under the age of 18.

In Quebec, you cannot legally place a bet if you are under the age of 18. A situationa that is rather ironic; as the lotto folks were getting rich off the same folks they forbid to play their games.The Sport lottery had picked up the junior games to replace the cancelled NHL games that normally fill the wagering appetite of Quebecers. An appetite which last year brought in over 46 million dollars for the lottery corporation.

One of the fears of league officials was the potential for damage to the integrity of the games being played. With the average junior hockey player under 18 making only 40 dollars a week, there were worries that unsavoury characters may approach the young players and offer them riches should they let in a goal or maybe lose the puck in their own end at a convenient time.

With the Montreal newspaper Le Journal de Montreal all over that angle, the league and the lottery corporation were quick into damage control and heading off any potential crisis before it could get started.

The lotto corporation will now turn its attention to other possibilities, one suggestion running games of the European leagues on the punters board, with a high number of NHlers playing on the continent there may be some interest. But any way you count these cards, the house is going to lose big money this year, with no hockey expected for the foreseeable future, that 46 million dollar take is going to be rather hard to replace.

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