In the 2012 Manitoba budget, the provincial government announced that the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Commission would be the reconfigured name of a union between the province’s Liquor Control and Lotteries commissions.
But the full amalgamation of the two bodies is still far off as the bureaucratic process of merging thousands of workers into a new body is very complicated, to say the least. Despite the long process, the Manitoba government says the MLLC will save taxpayers approximately $3 million annually due to the streamlined operation.
Finance Minister Stan Struthers, one of the primary individuals responsible for the merger, released a report outlining the progress of the merger. Struthers predicts the union will take more time as the government is committed to reducing costs effectively.
“The key for me is that not only do we save money on behalf of the taxpayer, but we redirect it back into the front lines of health care and education.”
However, the province appears to be losing money through traditional streams of gambling revenue such as casinos or video lottery terminals (VLTs). The provincial report notes that the province saw a 13.2 percent drop in annual gambling revenue, which averages to an approximate $45 million decline.
Part of the reason for the reduced revenue is theorized to be an insufficient number of gaming machines distributed across the province. Earlier this year, Struthers committed an investment in more VLTs, which he forecast will bring in an additional $18 million to the provincial budget.
But Struthers also notes that the province went live with a regulated PlayNow.com online casino at the beginning of 2013. The launch of a regulated internet casino seemingly increased the allure of online gambling, though many Manitobans continued to play at offshore casinos. Struthers will likely commit a portion of the MLLC budget towards marketing the PlayNow casino to help keep gaming revenue in Manitoba to invest back into essential provincial services.