Booze sales up, casino revenue crashes: MLL


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Turns out that during a pandemic, Manitobans drink more, buy more lottery tickets, and consume more marijuana.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/12/2020 (727 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Turns out that during a pandemic, Manitobans drink more, buy more lottery tickets, and consume more marijuana.

At the same time, due to public health restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 that have shuttered casinos and closed bars and lounges (home to VLTs) for long stretches, Manitobans haven’t been gambling nearly as much.

The figures are in Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp.’s latest quarterly report, released this week.

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES McPhillips Street Station casino, along with the other provincial casinos, saw a decrease in income of more than $64 million this year.

The Crown corporation’s liquor operations reported a $23.1-million bump during the six months from April 1 to Sept. 30. In that time, online gambling had an almost $15-million increase, and lottery revenue went up $3.2 million. Cannabis revenue increased $2.6 million.

The ledger wasn’t as good for casinos, which had a dramatic decrease in income of more than $64 million, and VLTs, which dropped by $58.3 million.

It adds up to $251.1 million in total income by MLL, down from the almost $330 million reported during the same period last year.

Overall revenue dropped $113.4 million, while operating expenses also went down $21.4 million.

Even with the uncertainty of the pandemic, MLL was left with more than $78 million in cash at the end of the period, compared with last year’s $37 million.

In a statement, Manny Atwal, president and CEO, said: “We finished the first six months of fiscal 2020-21 with year-over-year growth of net income in liquor sales, lottery tickets and, as well as cannabis distribution.

“At the same time, we reached all-time lows for revenues from our casinos and VLT network directly related to the COVID‐19 pandemic response which has required closures for VLT sites and casinos.”

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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