In Quebec a summit regarding higher education will occur in the last week of February to discuss the controversial tuition costs, which students argue have become far too expensive. However, at the same time Lotto-Quebec has announced it will partner with universities across the province to promote the University Poker Championship. Critics argue that encouraging gambling contradicts the point of the summit to keep university expenses down.
Students took to the streets of Montreal and other cities across Quebec last summer to protest the expected tuition increases. The rally cry of the protests was that university has become too expensive to finance, and student loans already leave graduates swamped in debt for years. The protests became such a hot-button issue that political pundits believe the movement contributed to the defeat of the provincial Liberal government and the election of the separatist Parti Quebecois.
The PQ has arranged the education summit to address the concerns of the student protestors, but the meeting will be overshadowed by the University Poker Championship. This tournament is promoted using images of a poker player who resembles Jonathon Duhamel, a mid-20s 2010 World Series of Poker winner of nearly $9 million in Las Vegas. Participating universities will host their own tournaments and the winners will go onto compete in the finals at Loto’s Casino de Montreal. There is over $20,000 in prize money available in the tournament, and the top two players will qualify for an all expenses paid participation in the upcoming World Series of Poker tournament this summer.
The poker tournament has received the support of Lotto-Quebec, which will host poker tournaments in regulated online casinos as well. The gambling organization says it will receive no profits from the tournaments, and instead considers the poker promotion a strategy for future gaming revenue. Lotto-Quebec has reported declining revenue over the last few years in part due to disconnect with younger gamblers. The agency believes the University Poker Championship will reengage 20 to 30 year old gamblers with regulated games.
The tournament has come under fire from critics, who suggest promoting gambling at universities while discussing how to lower tuition and university costs, is contradictory and hypocritical.