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Alberta Increases VLTs Cap to Help Struggling Airports

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission has increased the capacity of VLT machines in the province from 6,000 to 6,098. This move was done in order to allow debt-stricken airport authorities to collect further revenue from VLTs. The change was introduced at the end of last year and it was requested by the Edmonton International Airport.

In September 2022, the AGLC informed that now there is a new category of license holders named Airport Entertainment Centres. Currently, only Edmonton and Calgary airport authorities are allowed into the revenue stream. Each of them can operate up to 49 VLTs which are placed post-security in areas where minors are not allowed, such as bars and lounges.

Airports Still Struggle

At the moment Edmonton operates 14 VLTs, which were installed in November 2022 in one of the lounges. The airport gets 15% of the revenue, while the other 85% goes to the government’s general revenues to support programs and services. Also, the airport projects to gather CA$174,000 since the launch, and another CA$1 million for the fiscal year.

Edmonton International Airport issued a statement saying with the introduction of Sevens at 49, the authority has welcomed back 14 VLTs to the terminal, with the option of adding more in the future. Meanwhile, the Calgary Airport Authority commented in an email that it will not resort to VLTs at its terminals. This could be related to casino property, located in near proximity.

According to the Canadian Airport Council, nationwide airports have taken on over CA$3.2 billion in debt and this led them to try new ways of revenue sources. That is why the Edmonton airport authority is looking to use VLTs as a way of securing additional revenues. Also, this is the second time, the airport has operated VLTs until 2016 before they were suspended.

Alberta’s cap on VLTs was established back in 1995 after a recommendation by the Lotteries Review Committee. Back then there was tons of pushback and controversy around VLTs with some communities even banning them. This includes the County of Lethbridge, the towns of Canmore, Cardston and Sylvan Lake, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and the Municipal District of Opportunity No. 17.

Casino Relocation is on the Cards

In the meantime, AGLC also has to deal with the matter of the proposed allocation of Camrose Resort Casino to Edmonton. As requested by Capital City Casinos which operates the casino, the move was denied by the regulator. This led to Stagewest Hospitality appealing the decision and moving the property to a vacant lot near Parsons Road in southeast Edmonton.

The proposed relocation was also backed by the Town of Barrhead and Woodlands County communities. Woodlands County’s AGLC’s decision will greatly impact the county’s non-profit organizations, as many of them a hugely reliant on casino revenue for funding. She also noted that many groups have to wait up to two years to get the said revenue.

Source: Underwood, Colleen “VLTs offer new revenue stream to struggling Alberta airportsCBC News, March 20, 2023