Fact checked by Wilbur Thompson.
The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis government agency has lifted the long-standing cap on video lottery terminals (VLTs) in response to a request from the Edmonton International Airport, allowing for more VLTs to be installed in the province’s two biggest airports. The move provides an opportunity for airport authorities to generate additional revenue streams, especially in light of the COVID-19 shutdowns that have left many airports with mounting debts.
The AGLC created a new category of license holders called Airport Entertainment Centres, with a maximum of 49 terminals located in areas that prohibit minors. Currently, only airport authorities in Edmonton and Calgary have access to this emerging revenue stream.
The Edmonton airport owns 14 VLTs, and the government’s general revenues receive 85% of the earnings, with the remaining 15% going to the airport authority. The Edmonton airport estimates VLT earnings of $174,000 since opening last fall and a $1 million share of revenues for the current fiscal year. The provincial government predicts its share will be $4.7 million in 2023-24.
Many Canadian airports are still dealing with slow recovery times and accumulating debt, leading to the need for new and diverse revenue sources. While Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and the Calgary Airport Authority have looked for alternative revenue streams that do not involve lottery games, the Edmonton airport has turned to VLTs. Some communities in Alberta continue to ban VLTs, but the province has increased the number of VLTs permitted from 6,000 to 6,098.