- »ALC Lotto Sales Down Overall but Online Gaming Soars
ALC Lotto Sales Down Overall but Online Gaming Soars
The coronavirus pandemic hit many businesses across Canada in devastating ways. Some businesses won’t recover from the mandatory shutdowns, and some will struggle for a long time to regain their footing. It was a crisis for which few companies could have been prepared.
The Atlantic Lottery Corporation, however, was more prepared than most, predominantly due to the nature of the business itself. The ability to switch most of its business online limited the pain for the ALC through March, April, and now May. Sales may be down 10%, but Atlantic Lottery is luckier than most.
Shutting It Down
On March 13, 2020, Atlantic Lottery President Brent Scrimshaw published a message to ALC players. While acknowledging the “rapidly evolving situation,” ALC increased cleaning measures in all lotto and gaming locations, complete with disinfecting ticker checker kiosks, terminal screens, and buttons.
However, the situation escalated more rapidly than anticipated. Per government and Health Canada officials, ALC had to shut down all gaming terminals and gambling locations. Scrimshaw issued another message – three days after the first – to announce the shutdowns.
Red Shores Racetrack and Casino locations in Charlottetown and Summerside, PEI closed on March 15. ALC suspended video lottery operations in all four Atlantic provinces. Terminals closed, and most retail partners were closing as well.
There was a two-week order on the original closures, but as it played out, those locations and lottery terminals remained closed through March and April and into May. As of May 18, the ALC has yet to announce any reopenings or changes to the current orders.
Assessing Initial Results
The full ramifications of the pandemic shutdown orders will not be known for some time. At this point, opening dates for gambling locations remains undetermined. Even when locations do open, many people may remain hesitant to venture out to those locations and/or use the terminals. It may be months, at the very minimum, before business returns to previous levels.
The Telegram spoke to Atlantic Lottery Corporation CEO Chris Keevill about the initial sales impact. He indicated that overall sales are down 10% thus far. While that will certainly hurt ALC’s bottom line, it will also impact those provincial governments that benefit from lottery profits.
From the 2018-2019 fiscal year alone, the ALC delivered more than $422 million to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. This year will not be able to deliver the same. “There’s no doubt there’s going to be, in the short term, less to offer back to the province,” Keevill said.
Online Offerings Save the Day
Despite so many closures in March, April, and May, the sales reduction of 10% is not nearly as bad as many other businesses will reveal. The ALC’s digital platform was its safety net.
While store sales decreased tremendously, Keevill revealed that online lottery ticket sales increased by about five times. He called it a “quite striking” jump and one that was possible only because of online ecommerce. Keevill noted, “We’ve seen a big jump in the sign-up for customers on ALC.ca, and we’ve seen a big lift in our online sales. So, that has made up for a lot of the dip in the traditional retail space.”
The ALC had been working on its digital platform for the past five years, ensuring that all of the major draw games and comparable scratch tickets were available online. Keevill credited his predecessors for the “foresight to build quite a robust ecommerce platform in the business.” He added that the ALC leads the country in that regard.
When the pandemic hit, the ALC put some finishing touches on the platform to cater to more customer needs, and it worked.
That online success will also ensure that the provincial distributions won’t be nearly as bad as they could have been. The 10% dip will hurt, but they will all receive solid payments. “We certainly have every intention to get back on track to provide the funds that are importance to the province,” Keevill said.
The ALC website offers numerous digital scratch-off tickets (also known as instant-win games), as well as lottery and keno drawings, including Lotto Max and Lotto 6/49. People are also discovering that there are online bingo games and daily fantasy sports contests. Sports betting options include futures, stadium bets, and other types of wagers on games and events.
There are also numerous promotions, such as the 2Chance. By entering non-winning tickets, players then have a chance to win prizes ranging from a new car to gift cards and cash prizes.
Players can create an account and buy individual tickets or play games occasionally, or they can buy a subscription that guarantees a certain number of tickets draws randomly over the course of 28 days.
There are many, many options for buying tickets, playing games, and for depositing and withdrawing funds from the ALC account.