Published: October 15, 2023

Atlantic Lottery Corp. (ALC) president and CEO Patrick Daigle said 2022-23 was especially bright compared to the 2021-22 fiscal year

The latest annual report from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation shows legal gambling to be like many other businesses in two key ways: Profits are up coming out of the pandemic and more customers prefer to do things online. 

ALC president and CEO Patrick Daigle said 2022-23 was especially bright compared to the 2021-22 fiscal year. 

"We were still operating under some … COVID restrictions and 2023 was the first full year that we didn't have to contend with that."

Despite that, the pot of money being returned to the four Atlantic provinces took a big jump in 2021-22, with the P.E.I. government's share of net profit coming in at $23.5 million, up 59.7 per cent compared to $14.71 million the previous year. For 2022-23, it rose even further to $29.3 million.

Nova Scotia's share rose to $160.4 million in 2022-23, New Brunswick was up to $163.9 million, and Newfoundland and Labrador took in $148.6 million. 

"It was a very positive year for Red Shores," Daigle said. "We're just so proud of that facility. It's such a showcase."

Man with glasses and business suit sitting at a desk in an office. Atlantic Lottery Corporation president and CEO Patrick Daigle said playing the lottery can be seen as either a discretionary item that people can cut when financial times are tough or 'an innocent indulgence.' (CBC)

Atlantic Lottery's i-gaming operations returned big profits, too, with revenues of $100.1 million representing a 30 per cent growth rate last year. That division includes such things as online digital bingo, sports products like ProLine,  and digital instant games. 

"That's frankly no different than any other fast-moving consumer goods that have a digital offering," said Daigle. "I'm sure you shop online and it's convenient for you — and for us, that's where our players are and it's their expectation. 

"And so we'll meet them where they …  would like to be entertained."

No e-casino in P.E.I.'s near future

In three of the four Atlantic provinces, ALC's digital footprint includes e-casino operations as well, with Newfoundland and Labrador signing on within the last year. 

Prince Edward Island alone has not struck a deal to set one up, said Daigle. 

"That's really a shareholder issue to deal with," he said. "From an operator perspective, really our focus is on creating a safe and regulated environment…. Each province does make different decisions on different products."

Lotto Max sales were at an all-time high, at a time when inflation was starting to bite into people's disposable income.  

ProLine lets people bet on the results they predict for professional sports games. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

"I've been in this business for a very long time and we've been unable to find a correlation either way between economic conditions and our revenues," Daigle said, when asked if people might be turning to lottery tickets as a potential solution when cash gets scarce.

"I have two minds. One is … as inflation creeps up and we're seeing Atlantic Canadians with less disposable income, this in fact is a fast-moving consumer good that is discretionary. And so I would expect to see a decline in that. 

"On the other hand, lottery is in fact an innocent indulgence and it's not an expensive indulgence. And so there is an opportunity to dream, perhaps."  

Big increase for ProLine 

ProLine sales were also up, as part of the overall sports betting category that had revenues of $17.2 million — up 16.3 per cent over the previous year. Daigle said people betting on sports results through that game tend to be younger and male, "but it is a product that has a fairly wide appeal as well."

By contrast, harness racing revenues at Red Shores were flat at $2.1 million. Daigle said it's considered "a mature product" with a "limited scope and audience."

But the full racing cards at Red Shores during the summer months do tend to draw people to the downtown Charlottetown restaurant and casino complex, he added.  

"Another factor is just the general population increase that we've seen," Daigle said. "It's been years since we've seen population numbers like this throughout Atlantic Canada." 

And though inflation hasn't been tamed, "we're still not seeing the economic slowdown in Atlantic Canada and some other areas are. So we definitely have some tailwinds helping the business."

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