The heads of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation defended Prince Edward Island’s multi-million dollar investment in the company behind the failed Geosweep game to the legislature's public accounts committee on Wednesday.
President Brent Scrimshaw and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Daigle answered the Committee’s questions about the ALC’s operations, including questions about P.E.I.'s investment in Geonomics and the GeoSweep game.
Geosweep was developed by the U.K. firm Geonomics, a company P.E.I. holds a $4.3 million investment in. The investment was matched by New Brunswick.
The game was launched by Atlantic Lottery Corporation last year with a high-powered promotion and ad campaign, but discontinued in July due to disappointing sales.
"GeoSweep is a game. Geonomics is a gaming company and that's what we invest in at the end of the day,” said Scrimshaw.
He said ALC still holds out hope for better versions of the game and for new products Geonomics might develop.
“They’re poised to address very significant markets, they still have an excellent management team, and so at this point we're confident our investment is sound,” said Daigle.
Scrimshaw and Daigle told the committee the ALC offers about 100 games.
They said the loss for P.E.I. so far is only $137,000 in interest payments over two years.
The ALC is now a billion-dollar company.
ALC fighting illegal online games
Opposition Leader Steven Myers blamed the poor investment on Finance Minister Wes Sheridan.
"For us as a province, we're not in the business of gambling and it is unfortunate the finance minister and this premier have chosen to gamble our money away. It’s still $4.3 million if the investment fails,” he said.
ALC's president said the corporation is in a tough competitive environment with illegal and unregulated online gaming coming from other countries.
Scrimshaw said the corporation has to develop new games.
“This business has to change. The way we conduct lottery in this market and frankly, around the world, we’re at the point where it has to be reinvented to some extent and part of the reinvention comes from presenting games for new players.”
The ALC officals said they believe the Geonomics investment will pay off with new online games.