ALC pushes web casino as profits set to drop: Marshall

Rob Antle
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

N.L. has yet to make decision about joining online gaming plan

The Atlantic Lottery Corp. (ALC) is pushing for online casino gambling as it projects a drop in revenues from its existing offerings, according to Finance Minister Tom Marshall.

Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Tom Marshall

And ALC is hoping to eventually take its virtual casinos on the road, Marshall said.

“ALC are obviously looking to grow, like any business would,” Marshall said in an interview.

“In addition to looking at getting into the online gambling business in Atlantic Canada, they also want to look at getting into the business elsewhere in the world as well. That would be the second phase.

“So they could go to some country or some state and say, ‘Look, we’ve been doing this for 30 years. If you want to get into this, we can do it for you.’ Or they could also provide consultation service to such states or countries.”

Marshall said the lottery corporation is projecting declining revenues from its current games.

The reasons, he said, include:

• product maturity and natural decline rates;

• no growth in the size of the market;

• decreasing profit margins, due to necessary reinvestments with no corresponding revenue increase — for example, replacing old machines with newer ones.

The province has also pulled the plug on more than 25 per cent of its video-lottery terminals (VLTs) over the past five years.

Overall, Marshall said, Newfoundland and Labrador’s revenues from ALC are projected to decline by a total of $55 million over the next decade, based on the corporation’s current offerings.

“They want to go after the online gambling market, and they feel they can take 35 per cent of it,” the minister noted.

ALC currently estimates that more than $50 million is leaving Atlantic Canada to offshore poker and casino websites.

Giving the green light to ALC’s online gambling plans would translate into additional cash of $23.5 million for Newfoundland and Labrador alone over the next five years, Marshall said, and $10 million a year after that.

He said Newfoundland and Labrador is one of three Atlantic provinces still considering whether to roll the dice on online casino gambling.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have also yet to decide, according to Marshall, while Prince Edward Island is onboard with ALC.

Atlantic Lottery officials initially agreed to an interview, then later declined.

In an e-mailed statement, director of public affairs Paula Dyke said the corporation has “the ultimate goal of providing fun, entertaining products in a safe, regulated environment.”

“There will be discussion and cabinet will make a decision. And it will be thoroughly analyzed and thoroughly discussed, then a decision will be made.” Finance Minister Tom Marshall

Dyke indicated that ALC would not answer any questions about what the corporation’s online casino gambling gambit might entail.

“We wouldn’t release information that could potentially be harmful to our business such as project timelines, profit projections and details of potential offerings,” she said.

Meanwhile, back in Newfoundland, Marshall scoffed at suggestions that government support for online gaming is a fait accompli.

“The fix isn’t in here,” Marshall said.

“There will be discussion and cabinet will make a decision. And it will be thoroughly analyzed and thoroughly discussed, then a decision will be made.”

He acknowledged there would be advantages to green-lighting the plan.

Marshall said there are an estimated 2,000 illegal, unregulated gaming sites.

“The black market is there already,” he noted.

“So the question is, do we just let that carry on — these unregulated sites, these illegal sites — or should ALC get into that business so at least you’ve got at least a regulated site, a legal site, a responsible gambling site, and then the revenues could be used for purposes here in the province.”

In July, British Columbia became the first province to offer online casino gambling.

But B.C. was forced to take its system offline on opening day when a glitch allowed some gamblers access to other players’ account information.

And this week, Ontario signalled its intent to move forward with online casino gaming.

Other provinces are also considering the concept.

ALC has offered a form of online betting since 2004 called Playsphere.

Playsphere allows gamblers to do things like buy lottery tickets online.

It does not let them bet in a casino-style setting, through games such as poker and blackjack.

Gambling-related cash is important to the Newfoundland and Labrador treasury.

This year, the province has budgeted to receive $101 million in lottery revenues.

 

rantle@thetelegram.com

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia New Brunswick Prince Edward Island British Columbia Ontario

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Nick
    August 16, 2010 - 07:40

    Bring it on Danny and gang lol we got to pay the bill's some how right !!! The opnly ones to complain is the one's who pay no taxes that p[rovides these welfare cheques. I THINK WORK FOR WELFARE SHOULD BE INTRODUCED SEEING HOW MANY ABLE WORKING POEPLE ARE ON IT THESE DAYS ......

  • Dough
    August 16, 2010 - 00:35

    It's comments like those below that are ignorant of reality. If people want to gamble with their own money they should have that right. Most people are able to do so responsibly. Do we stop selling alcohol because a certain percentage of the population are alcoholics? No, because most people are able to drink responsibly and prohibition would not work, this has been proved repeatedly throughout history. This situation is no different. Let's regulate and tax the activity, one that will exist regardless, and put in controls that protect the most vulnerable, and make the current environment that much safer. It is time for us to accept that people are going to gamble regardless, and stop pretending that getting rid of VLT's or not regulating the online environment is going to make any difference, as this is ignorance at its height. Let's tax, regulate, and offer support to problem gamblers, and make sure Newfoundland and Labrador gets a cut at the same time. it's a far better solution than putting our heads in the sand.

  • miChelle
    August 15, 2010 - 15:00

    ALC has cut back the odds of giving winnings This is why there's less ALC revenue-people caught on and don't play as much and/or gave up playing altogether. This looks, talks and walks like Organized Crime AND is Not what the Lottery and ALC were put in place to do. WHERE are the AUDIT Informations for each Maritime Provinces AUDITS Of ALC? WE NEED, the W-5 of ALC's AUDITS. Do any of You know Who, What, When, Where and Why Info of Atlantic Lottery Corporations AUDITS? (Didn't think so. CSIS needs to Audit ALC! )

  • Anon
    August 15, 2010 - 12:01

    They're just trying to get the welfare cheques back

  • Jack
    August 14, 2010 - 16:13

    Wouldn'T it be better for the Provence to take the high road on this one? Gambling is a tax on the poor and stupid personally I think getting rid of all VLT,s would be the greatest accomplishment the province could make on behalf of its citizens!

  • Isedabye
    August 14, 2010 - 15:52

    welllllllll...remember the good old days...thats when the people running gambling operations(the mafia) were hunted down and thrown behind bars...this gives a good perspective on the character types now running governments(and gambling)...as one writer from England discovered after much research , lotteries..etc. basically amount to a tax on the stupid!!!!!...i dont think governments have a right to prey on the stupid anymore than they have a right to prey on any individual.

  • Isedabye
    August 14, 2010 - 15:20

    welllllllll...remember the good old days...thats when the people running gambling operations(the mafia) were hunted down and thrown behind bars...this gives a good perspective on the character types now running governments(and gambling)...as one writer from England discovered after much research , lotteries..etc. basically amount to a tax on the stupid!!!!!...i dont think governments have a right to prey on the stupid anymore than they have a right to prey on any individual.