Quebec Casinos Adjust Hours and Services as Ongoing Strike Limits Operations

Posted on: June 27, 2023, 11:38h. 

Last updated on: June 27, 2023, 12:30h.

About 1,700 Quebec casino workers went on strike last Friday at the six casinos owned and operated by Loto-Quebec, a government crown corporation that oversees lottery and casino gaming in the province.

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Hundreds of workers strike outside Casino de Montreal. Quebec casinos are modifying their hours and services as a strike consisting of 1,700 casino resort workers endures in the Canadian province. (Image: Global News)

The 1,700 employees are represented by the Casino de Montreal-CSN workers group. Union President Riccardo Scopelleti said collective bargaining negotiations have reached an impasse with the government-controlled gaming entity.

Union leaders are demanding that Loto-Quebec increase compensation to keep up with inflation, plus an additional $1 per hour. Loto-Quebec officials say the pay demands far exceed what the company has granted to its nonunion employees over the past year.

Loto-Quebec’s casino portfolio consists of six resorts and gaming halls, including Casino de Montreal, Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau, Casino de Mont-Tremblant, Hotel-Casino de Charlevoix in La Malbaie, Salon de jeux de Quebec, and Salon de jeux de Trois-Rivieres.

Quebec’s crown-run lottery dates back to the late 1960s, but the current Loto-Quebec enterprise was established in 1992 to govern casino gambling. It was 31 years ago that Quebec lawmakers legalized land-based casinos to improve “Quebec’s world-class tourism infrastructure, create jobs, generate new income for the government, and repatriate significant sums spent by Quebecers in casinos outside of Quebec.”

Union, Casinos Reach Deadlock

The casino workers’ union represents workers employed in nongaming functions such as housekeepers, cooks, servers, and bellhops. The union’s casino members do not include table game dealers, slot attendants, or pit supervisors.

The union is arguing that business post-COVID-19 has been strong, and Loto-Quebec should disperse some of the increased revenue to its workers. The union cited Loto-Quebec issuing more than C$650,000 in annual bonuses to its executives in its plea for higher union wages.

Loto-Quebec reps say the union’s demands “are more than double” the increases the company has afforded its nonunion staffers.

Scopelleti and union members upped the ante in the bargaining discussions by authorizing a five-day strike earlier this month that saw workers walk off the job during the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Montreal. The strike impacted catering, security, and maintenance schedules at the Loto-Quebec casinos, but the event nonetheless went on as planned.

Last week, the union authorized an “unlimited general strike” that commenced on Friday. The strike is set to continue until new a new contract is reached.

Modified Business Hours

Quebec’s provincial-owned casinos remain open for business, but with adjusted hours and services.

Casino Montreal is open daily from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Casino Mont-Tremblant and Hotel-Casino Charlevoix are closed Monday through Wednesday, but open Thursday through Sunday from 2 p.m. to midnight.

Casino Lac-Leamy, Salon Quebec, and Salon Trois-Rivieres are open daily from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.

While gaming remains available, Loto-Quebec says many casino restaurants have been forced to temporarily shutter or only offer takeout because of the labor dispute. Casino nightclubs and other entertainment venues are also on hold.

Hotels, however, remain open, though room service and bellhops aren’t currently available. The company says other hotel amenities, such as pools, gyms, and spas, are open as usual.