Online Helps Spur British Columbia’s Record Gambling Revenue

Online Helps Spur British Columbia’s Record Gambling Revenue

Revenue from British Columbia Lottery Commission’s online gambling site jumped a whopping 14.5 percent for fiscal year 2017-18, helping fuel the government-owned gambling monopoly’s overall revenue to a record C$3.27 billion.

The total represents a jump of C$123 million, according to the fiscal 2017-18 report for the 12 months ending March 31, 2018. The report also showed net income rose C$61.5 million to a record C$1.4 billion.

Has eGaming Peaked in BC?

PlayNow.com, BCLC’s online gambling site, saw its revenue surge to C$180.6 million, and much of the credit goes to the launch of live dealer casino games in January 2018, which is powered by Evolution Gaming. BCLC doesn’t break out net income figures for its eGaming division.

However, its registered customer base may be stagnating. The report from this fiscal year and the last fiscal year both show PlayNow.com’s customer base at 370,000, and with the site restricted to British Columbia residents, there isn’t a ton of room for growth.

BCLC introduced Web Cash last November to try to prod growth online. The program provides C$25 vouchers for deposits on PlayNow and are given to customers at 33 of BCLC’s retail gaming locations. The program reportedly may be expanded in an effort to push more existing customers to explore online options once back at home.

A Deeper Dive into BCLC’s Numbers

BCLC reported record overall revenue of C$1.95 billion for its 15 casinos, 18 community centers, two racecourse casinos and five bingo halls.

Slots showed a seven-percent jump up to C$1.37 billion, though table games ticked up less than one percent to C$492.7 million. Lottery revenue was flat at C$1.13 billion, despite another record performance by the Scratch & Win category, the BCLC said.

“BCLC’s results in these areas strike the right balance between creating outstanding entertainment experiences for players and upholding social responsibility – from new content and distribution of key product categories, to a strategy and evaluation framework that focus on player health,” the company said in a news release.

Rebuilding Trust Amid Scandal

There is a belief that the lackluster table game performance could be tied to increased scrutiny caused by the money laundering scandal and a blistering government report in June calling for an independent gaming regulator.

That 250-page report, entitled “Dirty Money" and prepared by independent investigator Peter German, came after it was discovered that Chinese VIP gamblers were laundering money at the province’s privately-managed but government-controlled casinos, most prominently Richmond’s River Rock Casino.

Jim Lightbody, President and CEO of BCLC wrote in a social responsibility report, which was part of the news release, that even with progress made in evolving responsible gambling programs and improving exployee experience, he also recognized "there are other areas of our business that require more effort to improve the trust people have in our company."

"BCLC’s corporate reputation has been impacted by the money laundering issue affecting many sectors in the B.C. economy," he wrote. "BCLC remains steadfast in our commitment to be part of the solution, working collaboratively with the multiple agencies and organizations, to combat this insidious issue impacting our communities We will support the Government’s decision on the recommendations from Dr. Peter German's report on anti-money laundering practices at casinos.”

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