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Covid-19 closures push revenue down at BCLC in FY19-20


Canadian provincial lottery operator the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) said measures implemented during the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic led to a decline in revenue for its 2019-20 fiscal year.

Revenue amounted to CAN$2.53bn (£1.45bn/€1.62bn/US$1.95bn), which was 2.3% down from 2018-19, and below BCLC’s $2.64bn projection for the 12 months to 31 March, 2020.

Casino and community gaming remained the primary source of income for the operator, with revenue standing at $1.83bn, down 3.7% year-on-year.

All segments here, with the exception of poker, declined in 2019-20. Slot machine revenue fell 2.3% to $1.37bn, while table game revenue was down 8.2% to $417.2m and bingo revenue 9.6% to $20.8m, though poker revenue edged up 1.7% to $24.0m.

The BCLC said that casino and community gaming revenue fell $152.2m below projections due to a number of factors, but primarily the impact of Covid-19. The operator was forced to temporarily close all gaming facilities in March, in line with provincial orders in British Columbia, and properties have not yet reopened.

However, despite this decline, the BCLC did see 1.8% increase in revenue from its lottery and online gaming operations. Revenue here totalled $698.2m, which was $45.6m ahead of its $652.6m budget for the fiscal year.

This was driven by growth within the online gaming segment, with revenue up 19.5% to $179.0m, which the BCLC put down to improvements within its PlayNow branded igaming offering.

In contrast, lottery revenue was down 2.2% to $519.2m, as sales were hit by the closure of retail outlets in the latter part of the fiscal year due to Covid-19.

Looking at spending, total expenses for the year were 0.9% up to $1.12bn, with the main outgoing being casino and community gaming costs at $802.7m, though this was 2.3% lower than last year and $50.1m below budget.

Lottery and online gambling costs were 10.7% higher at $245.7m, some $9.1m above the $236.6m budgeted figure. Capital asset amortisation and depreciation was up 7.3% to $74.7m, but below the $76.5m budget set by BCLC for the year.

Profit before tax amounted to $1.41bn, down 4.9% on last year at $63.8m less than forecast, and after paying $60.9m in taxes for the year, this left the BCLC with a net profit of $1.35bn, a 4.9% drop on last year at $59.4m below budget.

BCLC chair Peter Kappel, and interim chief executive and president, Greg Moore, said in a joint letter that while Covid-19 had presented “unprecedented times” for the organization, they remain confident of growth and recovery moving forward.

“BCLC’s business activities were negatively impacted by measures put in place to support public safety during the Covid-19 pandemic,” they said. “The most significant negative impact arose from the temporary closure of all casino and bingo halls from March 16.

“With the full support of the board, our employees are dedicated to navigating through the pandemic and leveraging innovative approaches to our business so that BCLC can continue to achieve its mandate on behalf of the people and communities of British Columbia.”

Publication of the results comes after the BCLC and media business theScore in June declared their support for single-event sports betting in Canada.

Conservative Member of Parliament Kevin Waugh has introduced C-218, also known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, which looks to repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code to permit single-event betting.

Paragraph 207(4)(b) only permits bets on at least three games or more, meaning that a wager on a single match or event is illegal.