Blaine Higgs 're-evaluating' ALC's GeoSweep gamble

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs says the provincial government is "re-evaluating" its $4-million investment in Atlantic Lottery Corp.'s online GeoSweep game and the company who pioneered it.

New Brunswick invested $4M in online game

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs is re-evaluating the province's investment in the GeoSweep game offered by the Atlantic Lottery Corp. 2:31

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs says the provincial government is "re-evaluating" its $4-million investment in Atlantic Lottery Corp.’s online GeoSweep game and the company who pioneered it.

The finance minister said he is unsure if the provincial government wants to bet on the game any further.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs said the provincial government is re-evaluating its investment in GeoSweep. (CBC)

"We're meeting in the coming weeks, looking at, is there a future in staying," Higgs told CBC News.

"Do we want to continue? Do we want to participate?"

ALC refuses to release sales figures for Geosweep. However, there have been 132 draws for a $250,000 jackpot. There has never been a winner in the contest.

The game allows players to buy squares of property from a mapped grid of Atlantic Canada for 25 cents each per day. 

A computer randomly selects a square daily from 2.3 million in play and the jackpot goes to the owner. 

So far no one has owned any of the 132 squares selected, making it likely that fewer than one per cent of the squares have been sold and are in play on average daily. 

In Tuesday’s draw, the winning square encompassed a small stand of trees on the outskirts of St. John's.  No one owned it or any of 2,000 squares around it.  Still ALC says the game will prove itself.

The Atlantic Lottery Corp. says GeoSweep's parent company is close to selling the game to new lotteries. (CBC)

Lindsay Shannon, a spokesperson with the Atlantic Lottery Corp., said in an email to CBC News that GeoSweep's parent company, Roboreus, is close to selling the game to other major lotteries.

If Roboreus is able to convince other lotteries to buy GeoSweep that will earn ALC, and the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island governments, which  invested $4 million each, royalties.

"Others are seeing what we saw — reaffirming that this was a solid investment for Atlantic Canada," said Shannon. 

"GeoSweep was named one of the top three new lottery games worldwide by the World Lottery Association this September. Roboreus has signed a comprehensive agreement with GTECH — one of the leaders in the gaming industry — to market the game across the globe. Roboreus is also in late negotiations with other lottery jurisdictions in both North America and Europe."

The Liberals and New Democrats have criticized the provincial government’s investment in the GeoSweep game.

New Brunswick isn’t the only jurisdiction that has had difficulty selling the GeoSweep squares.

CBC News reported in July that GeoSweep has failed to take off in the U.K. In March, income from the game in the entire country was just 100 pounds a day, or roughly $160.