P.E.I. stands by lottery game investment
Atlantic Lotto spent $2M in failed launch of Geosweep
P.E.I. Finance Minister Wes Sheridan again defended the province's investment in the company behind Geosweep, as information emerged about the $2 million Atlantic Lotto spent promoting the game.
Geosweep was developed by the U.K. firm Geonomics, a company P.E.I. holds a $4.3 million investment in, an investment 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.
CBC News learned through a Freedom of Information request in Newfoundland that Atlantic Lottery Corporation spent close to $2 million on the launch.
Sheridan said the spending on the game's launch was not unusual.
"Just like the relaunch of Lotto 649, those types of investments need marketing and that's what happens," he said.
"Whenever we put a new game on the market this type of investment has to take place, so this $2 million would be very much in line with what it would cost to launch any game."
Progressive Conservative finance critic James Alyward said the cost of P.E.I.'s investment in Geonomics continues to grow. Recently it was revealed the province paid $58,000 in interest on the investment cost last year.
"As this story unravels, and the money builds up - $4.3 million, $58,000, $2 million - I think it's time that we really got into this file," said Aylward.
"It's quite obvious that this treasurer seems to have a problem and an addiction with gambling taxpayers' money."
Sheridan said he's convinced the Island's multi-million dollar investment will pay off at some point.
"Our investment is not in the game in Atlantic Canada," he said.
"We've invested in Geonomics, which is a global company that is going to be launching in a number of jurisdictions, and we get a cut of that. And we're very confident that it will return these dollars plus when they make further investments in these other jurisdictions."
Atlantic Lottery officials say while GeoSweep was pulled in July it may return. A new version of the game has been launched in the U.K.
Senior officials with Atlantic Lottery Corporation will appear before the P.E.I. legislature's public accounts committee on Oct. 16. They will answer questions about its operations, including questions about P.E.I.'s investment in Geonomics and the GeoSweep game.