As the 12-month milestone of British Columbia’s closure of land-based casinos approaches. This measure, geared at curbing the spread of COVID-19 has not been assigned an end date. While the huge resulting revenue losses are being somewhat offset by online gambling revenue, the difference being made is simply not enough.
The BC Ministry of Finance announced that venues have been submitting safety measure proposals which are being reviewed by Worksafe BC and the provincial Health Office. The Department further stated that it is investigating ways to better support casinos.
Online gambling Canada is doing little to address the increasing number of unemployed individuals in the province. Tanya Gabara, the Public Relations Director for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited, stated that 8 000 employees have been without work since March 2020. This represents 90% of all the staff at the company’s 30 casinos and 100 restaurants alongside its other business interests in the province and across the country at large.
Net profit plummets
According to recent figures published in the BC Lottery Corporation’s Annual Service Plan Report for 2019/2020, the corporation came in approximately CA$59 below budget. Over CA$1 billion was recorded in net proceeds. However, this is close to CA$70 billion less than income recorded over the previous period.
Peter Kappel, the Chairman of the Board, cited the closure of Bingo halls and casinos in mid-March 2020 as the largest contributor to the revenue loss. He stated that many players had moved over to the Lottery’s PlayNow.com online gambling Canada site, but the uptake was well below anticipated levels.
Online on the rise
Over the past 11 months, the PlayNow.com online gambling Canada portal has recorded a 131% increase in activity. This represents income of almost CA$180 million for the 2019/2020 fiscal year. The Ministry of Finance has advised that this income moves directly from the Lottery Corporation to British Columbia for local distribution.
The money is channelled into ensuring the continued operation of key services such as education and health care while also providing support for the economic development of local communities.
Further data on the income being generated by Canadian legal online casinos since the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions is forthcoming according to the Lottery Corporation. Its annual report for 2020/2021 is scheduled for delivery after March 31.