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The province prohibited the sale of scratch and break open tickets in stores as of March 30 in an effort to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but since the pandemic began, online lottery sales at alc.ca have increased by roughly five times, according to Atlantic Lottery Corporation CEO Chris Keevill.
Keevill said despite that “quite striking” jump online, overall sales have still decreased 10 per cent.
“The Atlantic Lottery business has seen a drop, but not nearly as far as many of the other lotteries across Canada. So, we’ve seen a dip, but not as deep a dip. And one of the reasons, probably the primary reason for that, is Atlantic Lottery has quite a robust digital platform,” said Keevill.
“It’s a more developed e-commerce platform for buying your 6/49 or Lotto Max ticket, check your winning numbers, or play a number of digital instant games that are available for play on alc.ca. So, because of that, 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.”At alc.ca, people can create an account and buy tickets through a subscription. All of the major draw games are available on the website, as well as digital instant games which are comparable to scratch tickets except in digital form.
Keevill said the digital transformation of the gaming business for Atlantic Lottery has been in the works for roughly five years, but the pandemic has accelerated it “with everyone at home, and having the opportunity to sign up online,” he explained.
“Atlantic Lottery’s a bit fortunate because before my time, the people that came before me had the foresight to build quite a robust e-commerce platform in the business, and we lead the country in that regard, in fact.
“And so that’s what’s allowed us to keep more of our business during the pandemic when compared to the lotteries in other parts of the country who have seen much greater declines because they weren’t able to make it up on the digital side.
He said the growth in online sales during the pandemic has given Atlantic Lottery encouragement and confidence to invest more assertively in its digital games.
The 10 per cent slump, however, means less money coming back to the provincial coffers.Atlantic Lottery brings in hefty amounts for the Atlantic provincial government shareholders. For example, according to alc.ca, in 2018-2019 Atlantic Lottery returned $422.2 million to provincial governments.
The breakdown by province was $138.6 million for Nova Scotia, $130 million for New Brunswick, $135.4 million for Newfoundland and Labrador, and $18.3 million for Prince Edward Island.“There’s no doubt there’s going to be, in the short term, less to offer back to the province,” said Keevill.
“But we are encouraged that the players are migrating to this new (online) platform, and we certainly have every intention to get back on track to provide the funds that are important to the province.”
Newfoundland and Labrador had the only government-mandated suspension of lottery sales in Atlantic Canada, but some retailers made the decision to discontinue lottery sales anyway, such as Sobeys and Loblaw. However, within the last week, many such retailers have reopened their lottery sales.
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