Alberta downturn changing the way people drink and gamble, AGLC says

Albertans are drinking more, but the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission says population growth — not the downturn in the economy — is the main reason for the increase.

Fifth straight year of increase in volume of liquor sales

The report shows there are more people consuming alcohol, but that's because of the province's young and growing population, AGLC chief Bill Robinson says. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Albertans are drinking more, but the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) says population growth — not the downturn in the economy — is the main reason for the increase.

Albertans consumed 3.80 million hectolitres in 2014-2015, up from 3.68 the previous year and the fifth straight increase since 2010. (A hectolitre is equivalent to 100 litres.)

(AGLC)

"Some people say, 'Well, are people drinking to kill the pain of a bad economy?' I don't see it that way at all," says AGLC chief Bill Robinson.

"I don't think it's a case primarily where people are over-consuming or certainly drinking that much more," he added.

Robinson says Alberta's young and growing population, as well as the easy access to liquor in Alberta's privatized marketplace are the main drivers for the increase.

"Even with the economy in a downturn, we still right up until a number of months ago were seeing an inward migration," he told CBC News.

Cheaper booze

But Robinson says the poor economy is changing the way Albertans indulge in their vices.

"When you see a downturn in the economy … people won't necessarily change their [drinking] habits … but they'll potentially buy less expensive products."

Robinson says gambling habits are also changing.

"People will migrate more towards lottery and raffle, and move a little bit away from video lottery terminals and slot machines."

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