Coming from the health care sector I have been acutely focused on the careful allocation of limited resources, and that’s going to translate here into enhancing returns on every business investment. Health care is also an industry with a great many voices, and the ability to work with so many stakeholders should serve me well in this industry.
More generally, I have a deep appreciation and passion for community health matters, including community outreach. One of the priorities for Liquor & Lotteries will be to build upon its leadership position in social responsibility, which of course is a multi-faceted topic.
What’s your vision for the future of Liquor & Lotteries and its role in the gaming community in Manitoba and Canada?
In a national context Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries will continue to participate and collaborate with other jurisdictions on prevailing industry matters. For instance, Manitoba has been an advocate in support of Bill C-290 and single event sports betting. It’s something that customers want and we need to be focused, of course, on those customer preferences.
From an operational perspective, it’s more important than ever that we make decisions that are based on data and evidence; that we effectively communicate to our very broad set of stakeholders including players, business partners, government and support agencies; that we make each and every employee an ambassador for the corporation and accountable to uphold our standards; and that we further our level of transparency.
What do you believe are the greatest growth opportunities for gaming in Canada and why?
This is something that Canadian Gaming Business has done an excellent job of covering but does bear repeating. Players are looking for new and engaging experiences. They’re looking to connect non-gaming and gaming activities, and this doesn’t necessarily refer only to a casino environment. Research is showing in particular that the younger generations are spending more on non-gaming amenities than gaming, which can’t be ignored. Our Club Regent Event Centre is a direct response to that, and we are going to continue developing our casinos in this direction including partnerships with the private sector to establish a boutique hotel and two new restaurants at our Club Regent site.
As well, the social and sharing aspect of gaming continue to grow, as it does in the rest of our increasingly digital lives. Online gaming has clear growth potential in this regard, but again there’s room to acknowledge this in our other business lines.
There are of course unique regional and jurisdictional factors that also come into play. For instance here in Manitoba, the regulatory frameworks surrounding liquor and gaming have been streamlined and better synchronized. For us, this translates into an ability to offer a more seamless entertainment experience for customers. Exposing new customers to the gaming environment by attracting them with non-gaming amenities will continue to be a key strategy going forward.
What are the greatest challenges facing the Canadian gaming industry today?
For some time now there has been the realization that certain forms of gaming are maturing and revenues have plateaued, demanding innovation from suppliers and a renewed focus on total customer experience from operators. The need to better understand customers is relevant to many of our product lines. From that will come questions such as: How do we reposition lottery products that resonate with moderate and light players without alienating core customers?
At the same time, we can’t be so focused on external challenges that we forget to foster trust, enthusiasm and creativity in our employees. There has never been a better time to invest in our people because those working on the front lines of the industry are a tremendous pool of creative ideas.
What product and service offerings does Liquor & Lotteries currently bring to the industry?
Over the past few years Liquor & Lotteries has been enhancing its non-gaming amenities at its two casinos, Club Regent and McPhillips Station. About a year ago we opened the doors to our Club Regent Event Centre that can host up to 1,400 in a variety of configurations thanks to a unique in-floor seating system. The venue has been tremendously successful, and we are continuing to invest in both casinos.
We’re growing our player pool on PlayNow.com, which delivers a great range of games including some peer-to-peer offerings in partnership with British Columbia and Quebec. We of course sell regional and national lottery products, and these are offered on PlayNow.com as well as at retail. Our recently refreshed video lotto network has shown sales growth in the past year and we are working closely and continuously with our three vendors to hone this product line for our market.
What’s your philosophy for delivering the best gaming experience for the customer, your organization, government stakeholders and the gaming community?
I’ve challenged my leadership team and the entire organization to commit to being progressive, empowering, accountable and transparent. Among other things this means always seeking improvement, making evidence-based decisions, providing the right tools and information to staff, letting people do their jobs and giving them the right support, being open and honest, and demonstrating pride in the work we do and the products and services that we offer. I believe that business success for all of our stakeholders will flow from that approach.