Pandemic stops casino revenue recovery in its tracks

Casino recovery halted

Casinos in the Thompson-Okanagan were enjoying a year of growth and recovery in the wake of 2018’s labour action before the COVID-19 pandemic forced their closure. 

An annual report released this week by the B.C. Lottery Corporation shows revenues at the casinos for the fiscal year ending March 2020 were way up when compared to the previous year when they were hobbled by a 19-week strike.

In Kelowna, Playtime Casino generated $29.7M in revenue, up 23.7 per cent from 2018/19. The most recent figures still fall short of 2017/18, when the casino generated $36M in revenue. 

In Kamloops, revenues at Cascades Casino climbed 29 per cent to $31.4M, but still, falling short of 2017/18’s peak of $35.2M.

At Cascade’s Penticton, revenues in 2019/2020 grew 18 per cent to $32.6M. In Vernon, revenues were $33M, up 23 per cent from the previous year.

Revenues are calculated after prizes are awarded. 

The bump in revenue equates to similar increases in the commission Gateway collects on casino games. 

Casino operators across B.C. take 25 per cent of the net win from slots, 42.5 per cent from tables, 77.5 per cent of the poker rake and 62.5 per cent of low-limit blackjack.

Gateway took $10.2M in total commissions at Playtime Kelowna, $10M in Penticton, $10.2M in Vernon and $9.8M in Kamloops. 

Chances Kelowna, which does not feature table games and is owned by Saskatoon’s Goldwing Investments Ltd., generated the most revenue for any gaming location outside the Lower Mainland. 

It brought in $47M in revenue, which is a drop from the previous year’s $52.8M, when they received a healthy boost while being unaffected by the strike at Gateway-owned casinos. The operators of Chances Kelowna raked in just under $15M during the fiscal year ending March 31. 

Chances Kamloops, owned by Gateway Casinos, had a $6M rake on $18.7M in revenue. 

Casinos were ordered to close province-wide on March 16. Provincial health officials have said they will be one of the last types of businesses to reopen during the pandemic. The closure will hurt more than just the casino operators, with local host governments of casinos taking 10 per cent of a casino’s net gaming revenue.

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