BCLC Revenue Report Shocks the Gaming Industry
In our last news piece, we covered a new agreement signed by the British Columbia Lottery Corp. (BCLC) and MGM Resorts to create a program that will take on the issue of problem gaming. Now, after the release of recent BCLC revenue reports for online gaming in the province, it seems that the organization may be talking the talk without walking the walk.
Just over a week ago, in what seemed like very positive move for the casino entertainment industry in North America, the BCLC announced a forward-thinking plan to introduce GameSense programs to all of MGM’s casinos. That wave of good publicity was interrupted this week by reports that show almost half of the government’s revenue from online gaming comes from just 5% of the players. That’ pretty extreme when you consider the level of income we’re talking about.
The statistics are the result of a new study by the Centre for Gambling Research at the University of British Columbia. The study analyzed data from BC’s online casino PlayNow, the province’s legal and government-owned gaming site. What’s shocking about the findings is that the numbers mean that about 620 players are the source of 45.9% all the income at PlayNow. This fact is not something to be particularly proud of since it hints at problem gambling, something that BCLC has been trying to present as one of their most important issues.
The report covered a period of one month – June 2015. The research team at UBC found that 41,041 people played at the site, while 48 million bets were made resulting in total income of C$118 million. The online casino games accounted for 30% of the play, but brought in 96.7% of the bets made. PlayNow’s slot games accounted for around 80% of all the wagers placed during the month.
Over the month, the average casino player placed 763 wagers each at an average of C$1.20 per bet. Just over 80% of all the online casino bets were placed by 20% of the most active players. This group of players each made an average of 12,594 wagers in the month of June. That breaks down to 420 wagers a day at an average of $6.40 each, and a total spending of $66,361 for the whole month.
While these figures are somewhat alarming, it must be noted that slot machines and other casino games of course pay out as well. The payout percentages ensure that every game pays out a percentage of winnings. For slots, it depends on the specific game, but it’s usually between 92 and 97 percent. This is an average, but over time it’s accurate. This means that out of all that money spent a lot was also paid back to players in winnings.
That being said, the BCLC is taking some harsh criticism for this data. The obvious concern is that it points to the fact that PlayNow is reliant on problem gamblers for most of their revenue. BCLC is defending its position as an organization that does care about problem gambling. PlayNow is the province’s only legal online casino so its popularity is guaranteed, but that also means that it has a responsibility to the community. More figures still need to be released to complete the picture here. For example, the figures relating to payouts have not been released for the month in question. This will also affect the way this data I viewed.
BCLC’s own image as an organization isn’t the only thing at stake here. Since MGM just signed a huge deal for implementing BCLC’s GameSense responsible gaming program, the pressure will be on BCLC to explain how their system to keep the public safe is actually effective.