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Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation’s net income was $24 million below the budget, according to the province's fiscal update.

The numbers, released Tuesday, states the lower than anticipated revenue is due to impacts from COVID-19, including declining attendance and the closure of casinos and VLT networks in March.

The Casinos of Winnipeg began experiencing declining attendance in the last month of 2019/20, and on March 18, 2020, the provincial government required all Manitoba casinos to close.

For March 2020, revenues were nearly 70 per cent lower than the same period of 2018/19. 

The annual report said revenue from casinos dropped $8.6 million this year, a 3.4 per cent decline.

During the month of March, bars and restaurants across Manitoba began to close voluntarily due to reduced business, as patrons heeded physical distancing and stay-at-home recommendations. VLT revenues were 40 per cent lower compared to March 2019, and liquor sales to licensees were also down 24 per cent in March 2020 compared to the prior year. 

All other liquor channels experienced strong sales in March 2020, led by Liquor Marts at 29 per cent above March 2019.

Liquor revenue jumped by $13 million, mostly from sales at Liquor Marts.

Cannabis sales nearly doubled, bringing in nearly $51 million in 2020, compared to just under $27 million.

Casinos in Manitoba began reopening on July 25.