As revenues improve, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries wants to try its luck with online gaming expansion

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries plans to roll the dice to expand its presence in online gaming, as the crown corporation’s revenues rebound after a year marked by pandemic shutdowns.

AT a hearing of the legislative committee on Tuesday Where he presented the company’s report for fiscal year 2020-21, President and CEO Manny Atwal said his financial situation is improving.

So far in fiscal year 2021-2022, alcohol sales are on the rise, cannabis revenue is expected to double as dozens of new stores have opened, and casino profits increase as these venues are open a long time ago. much of the year, he said.

The company’s net income is expected to reach $ 570 million for the fiscal year ending March, Atwal estimated, a notable increase from $ 425 million in 2020-2021, but still down from the $ 606 million. pre-pandemic dollars reported in 2019-2020.

Liquor & Lotteries hopes to rebound financially through the continued growth of online games.

It expects $ 50 million to $ 60 million in revenue this fiscal year alone from PlayNow.com, its online gaming platform.

Despite this significant growth, the Manitoba company faces competition from international players.

Atwal called PlayNow Manitoba the only legal gambling site, but added “we also understand that many of our customers have moved to illegal or gray market sites.”

Liquor & Lotteries estimates that the overall Manitoba gaming market represents between $ 75 million and $ 150 million in annual revenues.

A video game site needs exposure: CEO

PlayNow could take a bigger share of that market with more brand awareness, he said.

“I know this group has heard of it, but I’m pretty sure most of you don’t know much about it,” Atwal told the committee, which includes members of the ruling Progressive Conservatives as well. only New Democrats and Liberals.

“This is our challenge – we need to get Manitobans to know more about it.

As for alcohol, Atwal suspects Manitobans are “essentially at pre-pandemic drinking levels,” saying the panic buying of the onset of the pandemic is behind us.

However, the trend for consumers to visit liquor stores less frequently but to purchase more products continues. Liquor & Lotteries is also seeing more and more people turning to “soft drinks” – such as hard seltzer water products – rather than beer and wine.

Controlled entries in many Liquor Marts provinces have reduced the number of thefts and robberies in the store, said Manny Atwal, CEO of MLL. (Angela Johnston / CBC)

Customers also spend more per product.

“Instead of spending $ 20 on a bottle of spirits, they’ll spend $ 23 on a bottle of spirits,” Atwal said.

Alcohol sales reached $ 886 million in fiscal year 2020-2021, an 11% increase from the previous year.

Meanwhile, cannabis revenue has grown from $ 51.5 million in 2019-20 to $ 80.2 million in the last fiscal year.

Atwal predicts a similar peak for 2021-2022, as the number of cannabis stores could double in one year, from around 70 to 140 locations. The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba currently lists 135 stores on its website.

The cannabis market in Manitoba is starting to approach market saturation, Atwal said, with that point likely hovering between 170 and 200 stores.

Thefts in liquor stores, heists plunge

The boss of the company also said the thousands of thefts Manitoba liquor stores saw in 2019 are a thing of the past, following new security measures.

He reported a 98% decrease in thefts and an almost 100% drop in robberies after the installation of controlled entrances at all Liquor Mart stores in Winnipeg and in some rural communities.

After public calls to add security measures in more locations, controlled entrances have been installed at liquor stores in Flin Flon and The Pas, and will soon be added in Thompson, Atwal said.

For its employees, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries will make working from home a permanent measure, even after the pandemic is over, Atwal said.

He said Liquor & Lotteries’ hybrid working model will allow company staff to work off-site and on-site for the long term, and will also allow the company to sell real estate, such as the old distribution center. on Buffalo Place in Winnipeg.

“This will allow us to divest several properties, achieve one-time net profits and reduce long-term occupancy costs, thereby improving the profitability of the province.”

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