Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries (MBLL) CEO Manny Atwal has suggested that the corporation intends to gamble on growing its online gambling presence in the province in the coming months.
Atwal presented MBLL’s 2020-21 fiscal report at a standing committee hearing on January 11, during which he noted that the corporation has seen casino profits rising upon the previous year as those land-based venues were open for much of 2021. While Ontario and Quebec have ordered all casinos closed amid the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Manitoba’s casinos are still open, albeit at operating at 50 per cent capacity and requiring proof of vaccination for entry.
MBLL’s net income is expected to hit $570 million for the fiscal year ending this March, Atwal estimated. That’s up from $425 million in 2020-21 but still down from the pre-pandemic total of $606 million the previous year.
Looking ahead, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries intends to further its growth by expanding its online gaming operations. Atwal suggested the corporation expects revenues of $50 million to $60 million this fiscal year through its online gaming platform PlayNow.com alone. MBLL estimates the overall value of the provincial gaming market to be $75 million to $150 million in annual revenue, according to CBC.
While PlayNow is currently Manitoba’s only legal gaming site, there is likely to be continued competition from grey market sites. Atwal stressed that PlayNow could take a larger share of that market with stronger brand awareness. “That’s our challenge — we need to get Manitobans to know more about it.”