Prince Edward Island has issued its annual report on video lottery terminal activities, which have been a topic of discussion among gambling experts. For its financial 2021-2022 year that ended on March 31, 2022, the province has bagged over CA$10.3 million in VLT sales. This was a slight increase over the CA$8.1 million from the previous fiscal year.
P.E.I. Lotteries Commission’s report informs that VLT and other revenue from the province’s Red Shores entertainment sites in Charlottetown and Summerside were the lines of business which have witnessed the largest increase in proceeds in the 2021-2022 year. This means that the industry is recovering well from the major drops connected to the 2020 and 2021 closures.
Is it Worth It?
As stated for the 2021-2022 FY, the province collected over CA$10.3 million in revenue from VLT operations. In addition to that, the commission revealed that CA$237,950 has been provided to the Department of Health and Wellness Gambling Support Unit. In the report, the regulator confirmed that the overall gaming profit for 2022 stood at CA$22.6 million.
However, experts such as Bruce Dienes from the Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia flagged VTLs as a way of encouraging people to keep playing and lose more money. Still, he said that the government should not ban VLTs as many people still manage to enjoy gambling on them without harm. He believes that there is a conflict of interest as the province cashes out on people’s addictions while also trying to limit them.
Meanwhile, Green finance critic Hannah Bell claimed that it was insanity for the province to invest millions in mental health programs while at the same time, it is making millions from VLT revenue. She stated that the CA$10.3 million in revenue is not worth it when it comes to mental health, but removing or phasing out VLTs was a low-hanging fruit for the province.
In addition to the dangerous VLTs, P.E.I. has also introduced online gambling as an option for locals, which is supplied by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. The provincially regulated platform comes with protection and limits to minimize player risks. However, the problem is offshore gambling still remains as many a danger as their websites are widely available to almost anybody.
That is why Mr. Dienes commented that having online gambling options could be of huge risk for bettors who are struggling with gambling addictions. He elaborated that there are gamblers who play from isolation with no support, with no checks and balances, simply by connecting their computer to their bank account and just wagering all of it.
Government’s Response on iGaming
In response to the iGaming criticism towards the government, Finance Minister Darlene Compton stressed that the province must keep up with the rest of the Canadian jurisdictions which already introduced interactive gambling. She explained that the digitization was done as a way of keeping locals from unprotected offshore websites, where player health is not prioritized.
Source: Neatby, Stu “P.E.I. government made $10.3 million from VLTs last year” Saltwire, January 31, 2023