Manitoba sales for liquor, cannabis up, but COVID-19 causes drop in gambling revenue

By | September 29, 2020

Manitobans spent more on cannabis and alcohol in the 2019-20 fiscal year, according to Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation’s annual report — but spending on lottery tickets, VLTs and at casinos dropped.

Cannabis operations revenues were increased by about $24.5 million, to $51.4 million, in the first full year after the sale of non-medical cannabis was legalized in October 2018, according to the Crown agency’s annual report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.

During the year, nine more private cannabis retail locations opened in the province, for a total of 29 locations.

According to the report, the corporation — which is responsible for the sale of liquor and gaming products, and for the supply and distribution of cannabis in the province — had a net income of more than $606 million in 2019-20.

That’s down from a net income of just over $616 million the previous year.

Fewer people were using VLTs or going to casinos in the last fiscal year because of COVID-19, Liquor & Lotteries says. However, before the pandemic, gaming was trending upwards. (Simon Nakonechny/CBC)

Liquor revenues increased by $13 million over the prior year, with most of the increase occurring in Liquor Marts.

Casino revenues went down by $8.6 million compared to the previous year because of closures on March 18 of both Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Station Casino in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report.

Revenues from video lottery terminals dropped $1.3 million due to reduced play in March, the report says, as VLT players were told to physically distance to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Before March, though, all gaming had been trending higher than the year before.

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