WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries says the COVID-19 pandemic has given alcohol, weed, and gambling a major boost, even as it kept Manitobans home and forced other businesses to close.
MLLC CEO Manny Atwal says sales for booze shot up by 10 per cent as revenue increased by $13 million over the previous year, reaching $807 million. Sales taking advantage of home delivery services were also ten times higher than they were the previous year, reaching $5 million compared to their $500,000 in annual sales earned before the pandemic.
Manitoba’s cannabis industry has also doubled its revenue, reaching $51 million, with more than 80 suppliers across the province, while use of the crown corporation’s online gambling portal has gone up by 200 per cent.
But Atwal says increased sales don’t necessarily mean Manitobans are smoking, drinking, and gambling more, noting that prices have also gone up, and there was some panic buying when the pandemic started.
But MLLC data also shows that Manitobans who tend to drink more alcohol than is recommended by Health Canada have been consuming even more during the pandemic, averaging one additional drink every week. And as travel restrictions were enacted, and bars and restaurants were ordered closed, more Manitobans have been buying booze to drink at home.