OLG Annual Report: Numbers Improved, But Pandemic Hangover Lingers

Written By Dave Briggs on January 10, 2023
Despite record numbers for both lottery and digital gaming, COVID-19 casino closures sharply impacted the OLG's bottom line in fiscal year 2021-22.

Recently-released Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation figures for the fiscal year 2021-22 show the Crown corporation rebounded sharply from the pandemic 2020-21 period. But the OLG’s numbers were still off significantly from the last pre-pandemic period.

Notably, the OLG’s 2021-22 fiscal year ended on March 31, 2022. Figures were not released publicly until late December 2022.

In FY 2021-22, the corporation, which is involved in the Ontario casino, lottery and sportsbook industries, had the following financial highlights:

  • Total proceeds of $7.1 billion were up 49% from $4.8 billion in 2020-21. Figures exceeded the 2021-22 budget of $6.848 billion by 4%.
  • Revenue of $3.485 billion were up 56% from fiscal 2020-21 ($2.238 billion). Figures exceeded the 2021-22 revenue of $3.119 billion by 12%.
  • Net Profit to the Province of $1.6 billion were up 335% from fiscal 2020-21 ($359 million). Figures exceeded the budgeted NPP of $1.266 billion by 23%.

Compared to pre-pandemic levels, OLG down between 14 and 32%

The news is encouraging. But, the OLG was down in all categories compared to fiscal 2019-20, the last pre-pandemic period:

  • Total lottery and gaming proceeds of $7.1 billion were down 14% from the FY 2019-20 total of $8.289 billion.
  • Revenue of $3.5 billion was down 21% from the FY 2019-20 total figure of $4.386 billion.
  • NPP of $1.6 billion was down 32% from the FY 2019-20 NPP of $2.303 billion.

Further, the annual report stated:

“OLG’s proceeds and NPP exceeded the budget and prior year due to the continued growth of its lottery and digital gaming business, tempered by a continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on land-based casino gaming and charitable gaming centres. Public health restrictions limited site activity, to various degrees, throughout most of the year.

“Land-based gaming proceeds and NPP did, however, increase significantly year-over-year as casinos were open for a larger portion of fiscal 2021–22 and operated under fewer constraints which enabled a stronger recovery compared to fiscal 2020–21.”

As a further comparison, OLG figures show that over the last five fiscal years, it had high-water marks in the following periods:

  • Total proceeds of $8.299 billion in 2018-19.
  • Revenue of $5.462 billion in 2017-19.
  • Net proceeds to the province of $2.487 billion in 2017-18.

All numbers are expected to show strong improvement for fiscal year 2022-23, which is now in the fourth quarter.

OLG Historical Trends

New records for OLG’s lottery and digital gaming offerings

In the further good news department, the OLG set records in FY 2021-22 for the handle from both lottery and digital gaming. That clearly shows the impact of COVID-19 casino closures on total proceeds.

Notably, OLG lottery products took in a record $4.5 billion in 2021-22. The annual report attributes this to “strong Lotto Max results and an increase in sports betting as sporting events continued to rebound from pandemic impacts.” Lottery — defined by OLG as instant lottery products and terminal-based lottery and sports games from nearly 10,000 Ontario retailers —  also set a record for NPP of $1.3 billion in FY 2021-22. OLG also launched new Proline sports offerings at retail locations in February 2022.

Further, digital gaming produced record handle of $511 million in 2021-22, an increase of $155 million over the prior fiscal year. OLG defined digital gaming as, iCasino, iLottery and iSports through its online gaming platform.

The annual report attributed the digital gaming record to, “the launch of several new initiatives and products as well as growth in player registrations… During the fiscal year, OLG launched new iCasino and iLottery offerings, as well as the new Proline+, which is OLG’s online sports betting platform… Website traffic and player registrations on OLG.ca continued to grow, leading to a record number of active players.”

OLG 2021-22 gaming proceeds pie chart

Biggest negative impact felt by land-based gaming facility closures

Land-based gaming proceeds totalled $2.2 billion in 2021-22. That’s an increase of $2 billion over the prior year in which bricks-and-mortar gaming facilities in the province only generated $211 million. OLG defined land-based gaming for FY 2021-22 as the 29 casino gaming facilities and 37 charitable gaming centres in Ontario.

The annual report said the largest impact on 2021-22 land-based gaming figures was, “the requirement for casinos and charitable gaming centres to remain closed from April 3 to July 15, 2021, and again from January 5 to 30, 2022, for a total of 130 days… In spite of these challenges, land-based gaming recovery was stronger than anticipated and significantly higher than prior year, generating proceeds of $2.2 billion and NPP of $528 million over the seven and a half months gaming sites were permitted to be open to the public.”

Land-based facilities were closed for much of the 2020-21 fiscal year. Facilities closed in mid-March 2022, just before the start of the fiscal year. From September 2020 until the end of the fiscal year there were a number of re-openings and re-closures. Fallsview Casino Resort, Casino Niagara, Rideau Carleton Casino, and Casino Rama remained closed for the entire fiscal year.

“In land-based gaming, our focus in fiscal 2021–22 was working with our partners on the successful re-opening of gaming sites,” OLG president and CEO Duncan Hannay wrote in the annual report. “Despite the impact of the pandemic on casinos, Ontario racetracks and charitable gaming centres, OLG’s land-based gaming operations generated $528 million in net profit to the province in fiscal 2021–22 and delivered $116 million to municipalities and Ontario First Nations that host land-based casino gaming facilities and charitable gaming centres — and payments to charitable associations totaled $35 million.”

OLG has delivered nearly $57 billion to the province since 1975

In total, OLG has generated some $56.7 billion to the Province of Ontario since 1975. This revenue helps support provincial priorities that include: “the operation of hospitals; problem gambling prevention and treatment; amateur sport; and local and provincial charities, among other initiatives.”

The annual report shows that in fiscal year 2021-22 alone, the OLG paid:

  • $2.6 billion in lottery prizes to customers.
  • $333 million in commissions to lottery retailers.
  • $81 million to support 133 Ontario First Nations communities based on the OLG’s prior fiscal year’s gross revenues.
  • $119 million in direct funding to Ontario’s horse racing industry.
  • $116 million to municipalities and Ontario First Nations that play host to land-based casino gaming facilities and charitable gaming centres.

Further, the OLG directed:

  • $7 million to its responsible gambling program. This included PlaySmart Centres, education and technology, program delivery, staff training, and self-exclusion including capital costs for facial recognition systems.
  • $35 million in charitable gaming proceeds distributed to participating local charities.
  • $1 million in corporate sponsorships including festivals and events.
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Canada with emphasis on the casino, sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Canada and Michigan.

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