In what is seen as a setback for gambling businesses in Quebec, a previously planned development of a mini-casino with approximately 350 slots has been rowed back by Montreal Public Health, with its director, Dr. Mylène Drouin, hypothesising that the "risk for initiation to gaming is increased with this project" in a 42-page report.
The currently-closed 1909 Taverne Moderne, a three-storey building on des Canadiens-de-Montréal Avenue, had been earmarked as a mini gambling hub and was to be led by Loto-Québec, the lotto regulatory authority in the region established since 1969. Had it gone ahead, it would have joined other popular land-based casino hubs in Montreal, alongside Casino de Montreal, Magic Palace, and others.
The report also called the normalising of gambling a potential public health hazard - the earmarked location is just around the corner from the Centre Bell stadium, where the Montreal Canadiens play.
Industry bosses are shocked by the decision - Loto-Quebec and Groupe CH, the entity that owns the Montreal Canadiens, had partnered up for the project, which is now on the back burner.
One of the main points of contention from Loto-Québec was the lack of communication from officials. In a statement, they said:
We are stunned that Montreal Public Health would decide to send its report — and grant interviews — to journalists, instead of the main party concerned, Loto-Québec.
We're especially surprised given that we've been working with Montreal Public Health on this matter for two years.
Had the project gone ahead, it would have reduced the number of slot machines in Quebec by 600 as part of the original agreement.