By Nicolas van Praet, Financial Post - One in 10 Quebecers confess they’d be tempted to place bets over the Internet instead of doing work, a new survey reveals.
The findings, released Tuesday by Montreal polling firm CROP Inc., also show that 37% of respondents said their employers had no policy on using the Internet for personal interest during work hours.
Loto-Québec, the Crown corporation in charge of gaming in the province, is scheduled to roll out a controversial gambling website Dec. 1 that will let users wager up to $9,999 per week on games, including Texas hold ’em poker. The B.C. Lottery Corp. is also offering poker games.
Officials predict as many as 20,000 Quebecers will sign on to the service by Christmas. The site is expected to generate $50-million in new revenue within two years, padding Loto-Québec’s latest quarterly sales of $899-million by about 5%.
Quebec’s Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agrées, a trade group representing human resources professionals that commissioned the poll, said it is worried by the findings.
“I think this is really alarming,” said group president Florent Francoeur, noting misuse of the Internet for personal purposes during business hours has progressed from looking at pornography to checking up on friends on social network sites such as Twitter and now to active betting on government-sanctioned blackjack and roulette.
“There is going to be an impact on productivity,” he said.
For the Quebec poll, 1,000 people, all salaried employees, were polled via Web panel. No margin of error is applicable because separate questions were added to the survey to reduce the margin of error.
Canada’s provinces diverge sharply in their thinking on online betting.
Like Quebec and B.C., Ontario is pushing ahead in legalizing Internet gaming as a way to generate new money. Ontarians already spend an estimated $400-million a year on unregulated Internet gaming providers.
Nova Scotia had planned to start its own online gambling service but scrapped the plan last month, saying it was worried its participation could get people into gambling who otherwise wouldn’t. Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams has said he opposes introducing online gamling in his province.
A committee of academics advising Quebec before its last budget on March 30 concluded that increasing productivity is “the only sustainable, permanent means available” to the province to offset the impact of an aging population on economic growth.
Quebec’s private sector led the country in labour productivity growth in 2009, Statistics Canada figures released Nov. 19 show. Labour productivity, as measured by real gross domestic product per hour worked, rose 2% for Quebec over the year.
nvanpraet CxM nationalpost.com