Friday, March 31, 2006
document.write(CETransPubCode("TP Provincial News")); NB Telegraph-Journal | Provincial News
As published on page A1/A8 on March 31, 2006
Lottery revenues down almost $13M
Finance minister Jeannot Volpé says smoking ban may be to blame for decrease
By Kathy Kaufield
FREDERICTON - New Brunswick's ban on smoking in public places is likely to blame for an almost $13-million drop in lottery revenues this year.
This week's provincial budget shows the government is projecting a $12.8-million loss in 2005-06, including both video lottery terminal and lotto ticket sales.
Finance Minister Jeannot Volpé said Thursday that final numbers for the fiscal year aren't available yet, so he doesn't know whether the drop came in VLT revenue or ticket sales. But he said it's most likely VLT revenue that's on the decline because of the province's decision in October 2004 to ban smoking in public places.
That may have prompted some VLT players to either stop plugging the machines or to take their business from the province's licensed bars and restaurants to some First Nations communities that have VLTs and allow smoking.
"Maybe there are some people just shifting (to First Nations communities). We don't know yet. We will have to assess," Mr. Volpé said.
The province has revenue sharing agreements for gaming with several First Nations communities; the majority of profits made from VLT machines on reserves stay with the reserve rather than go to the province's coffers.
Mr. Volpé said the province can't force First Nations communities to ban smoking to level the playing field because they come under federal jurisdiction.
"We are trying to discuss with them and convince or whatever but at the end of the day, they are the ones who decide," he said.
The province estimated $122.9 million in lottery revenue in 2005-06, but this week's budget showed revised projections at only $110.1 million.
The numbers mark the first significant drop in lottery revenue in years. The only other drop in recent years came in 2001 when revenues fell by $100,000.
Mr. Volpé added that some of the drop could also be attributed to recent anti-VLT public awareness campaigns.
In 2005, Saint John resident Tim Smith staged two hunger strikes in front of the legislature in a bid to raise public awareness about VLT addiction and to push the province for changes to its VLT policy.
"Maybe (the public awareness campaigns) are also part of it. We don't know exactly. We are just trying to best guess," he said.
Mr. Volpé said the province had to make adjustments in its budget to make up for the lost revenue but that's just par for the course in a $6.2-billion budget.
The minister said the province isn't sure if the lottery revenue will bounce back next year so the government decided to be prudent and budget for the lower amount in 2006-07 too.
Despite the drop in revenue, Mr. Volpé said the province made the right decision by banning smoking in public places.
He said down the road the move will save health-care dollars because the province will see fewer cases of lung cancer.
"I think it is a good investment," he said.
Darlene Doucet, spokeswoman for the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, said Thursday New Brunswick retailers noted an immediate drop in sales after the smoking ban came into effect but because the final numbers aren't in yet, she's not sure if that trend continued for the entire year.
Newfoundland bar owners reported a 20-per-cent drop in VLT revenue when that province implemented a smoking ban last year.
When ALC president and CEO Michelle Carinci appeared before a legislative committee earlier this month, she said the corporation is expecting lower profits in 2006 for the first time in 30 years.
She linked the drop to the smoking bans in New Brunswick and Newfoundland.
CAST YOUR BREAD UPON THE WATERS, FOR AFTER
MANY DAYS YOU WILL FIND IT AGAIN. GIVE PORTIONS
TO SEVEN, YES TO EIGHT, FOR YOU DO NOT KNOW
WHAT DISASTER MAY COME UPON THE LAND.
( ECCLESIASTES 11:1-2 *NIV )
Many people have wondered what is meant by "Cast
your bread upon the water, and you will find it." Well, it is
An old Hebrew Idiom meaning to give to charity and it will
be returned to you.
After all it is written; HE WHO IS KIND TO THE POOR
LENDS TO THE LORD, AND HE WILL REWARD HIM FOR
WHAT HE HAS DONE. ( PROVERBS 19:17 ) This is
because; THERE WILL ALWAYS BE POOR PEOPLE IN
THE LAND. THEREFORE I COMMAND YOU TO BE
OPENHANDED TOWARD YOUR BROTHERS AND
TOWARD THE POOR AND NEEDY IN YOUR LAND.
( DEUTERONOMY 15:11 )
So Charles, always remember those who are in need,
and the homeless among us; SO THE POOR HAVE HOPE,
AND INJUSTICE SHUTS ITS MOUTH. ( JOB 5:16 ) After all our
Savior Jesus Christ said; "I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, WHAT-
EVER YOU DID FOR ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE
BROTHERS OF MINE, YOU DID FOR ME." Amen.
( MATTHEW 25:40 )
With My Love & Prayers,
your servant Allen
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