Albertans drinking, gambling more than ever, despite slump in economy

WATCH ABOVE: Despite the tough economic times Albertans are gambling and spending more on liquor than ever. Bill Robinson with the Alberta Game & Liquor Commission appeared on Thursday's Morning News with the latest numbers.

EDMONTON — It appears as though the downturn in the economy isn’t stopping Albertans from spending their money on drinking and gambling.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission’s annual report shows Albertans spent more than $2.5 million on liquor in 2014-2015, compared to slightly more than $2.4 million the year before.

And when it comes to how much booze they’re downing, Albertans guzzled more than 380 million litres of alcohol in 2014-2015 compared to 368 million litres in 2013-2014.

Bill Robinson, CEO of the AGLC, said Alberta has a “vibrant” liquor and gaming industry and some of the increase in liquor sales and gaming revenue is due to an ever-increasing population.

“We see levels of population tied to alcohol consumption. Essentially the more people coming to the province, the more alcohol that’s consumed,” Robinson said. “Alberta has a young demographic. We have a lot of young people in the province.”

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Gaming revenue from video lottery terminals, casino gaming terminals and electronic bingo also increased in 2014-2015 to $1.9 billion, from $1.8 billion the previous year.

While times are tough in Alberta right now, Robinson suggests people aren’t necessarily changing how much they’re spending on alcohol and gaming, but what they’re spending their money on.

“It’s interesting how it works. In some tough economic times people may not buy that expensive wine, they may drop down a shelf and buy a little less expensive product and essentially it’s the same with gambling,” Robinson explained.

“We’re seeing an increase in ticket lottery, you know, people that want to live the dream and win the lottery but yet may not go to casinos as much as they used to.”

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For more information on the annual report, visit the AGLC’s website.

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