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Slot machines at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C. June 11, 2009. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
Slot machines at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C. June 11, 2009. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Small Business Briefing

High stakes in Canada's gaming industry Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz

Key contributor to Canadian economy

Canada's gaming industry is a key contributor to the country's economy, according to a new study by the Canadian Gaming Association.

The study, called the 2010 Economic Impact of the Canadian Gaming Industry, found that legalized gaming revenue has nearly tripled to $15.1-billion in 2010 from $6.4-billion in 1995. It covers everything from casinos to video lottery terminals to horse racing to bingo.

With total industry revenues of $16-billion, (which would include non-gaming revenue from other hospitality-related items like food and beverage, entertainment and accommodation), its business now exceeds the revenues generated by magazine and book sales, social establishments, spectator sports, movie theatres and the performing arts combined, the study found.

As well, the study found that the gaming industry directly supports more than 128,000 full-time jobs in Canada, with indirectly related employment pushing that total to 283,000 jobs. That translates into $12.5-billion in labour income.

The study also found that gambling contributes $8.7-billion in annual funding to government, community programs and charity initiatives.

As well, it said that the industry's contributions total more than $31-billion in gross output and $14-billion in produced goods and services.

The study did note that recent growth has been slower, with the current industry revenue figure up from $14.8-billion in 2006. The study attributed the more modest recent increase to a combination of industry maturity, the state of the economy, more competition and restructuring of some provincial gaming programs.

Nevertheless, "in the past 15 years, we've seen tremedous investment across Canada to turn gaming facilities into entertainment destinations, which has generated not just economic benefits for the provinces, but employment opportunities as well," said Canadian Gaming Association president and CEO Billl Rutsey in the release.

The study noted that most goods and services needed to sustain operations are now produced or offered in Canada. And there is a chain reaction to keep the industry running.

A seed-funding degree of separation from Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber

Enflick Inc., the company behind free text-messaging application Text Now and smartphone cross-platform instant messaging app PingChat!, has secured more than $1-million in seed funding.

Among the contributors: Troy Carter, manager of Grammy award winner Lady Gaga, and Scooter Braun, who manages phenom Justin Bieber.

Other investors included Freestyle Capital and the Menlo Talent Fund.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company, which will use the funding on further product development, also earned a companies-to-watch award as part of the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards.

And the surveys say...

Customer service counts

Eighty-five per cent of Canadians say they have not completed a business transaction or intended purchase because of bad customer service, according to results from American Express Canada's annual Global Customer Service Barometer.

Nearly seven in 10 (69 per cent) of consumers will spend more with a company, on average 12 per cent, that they believe provides excellent customer service, according to the survey of 1,060 Canadian consumers.

And they'll equally punish bad service: along with the more than five in six who will turn away from a bad customer-service transaction, 49 per cent say a bad service experience has the most effect on their impression of a brand -- more than the 40 per cent who say it can make a good impression. Nine in 10 said that their experience with customer service has an effect either way on their impression of a brand, and more than half would be willing to try a new brand or company to get better service.

A quarter are willing to drive a longer distance and 20 per cent are willing to sacrifice convenience to find great service.

More consumers -- 64 per cent -- are likely to talk to friends about a bad experience than the 52 per cent likely to talk about a good one. And word will spread to more people: an average of 16 friends will hear about bad service versus nine that will hear about good, according to the annual survey conducted in 10 countries.

How can companies respond: Eighty-nine per cent of respondents said they want to resolve customer service issues by speaking with a "real person" on the phone and 80 per cent want face to face. Thirty-eight per cent are interested in online chat or instant messaging, 20 per cent in social networking and 17 per cent in text messaging, all of the online options up from a year ago.

Where's the succession planning?

Just 40 per cent of Canadian private businesses have a clear succession plan in place, finds a study prepared by the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation.The research was sponsored by Grant Thornton LLP.

The research, based on a survey of more than 100 financial executives, found some of the problem might be a lack of overall business planning: 30 per cent of respondents did not have a five-year vision for their company, and 20 per cent didn't have a clear overall strategy. More than half of respondents said the company owner had not expressed any concern about the future of the company after it was sold or transferred ownership.

Of those working for a family business, just over half said the owner planned to transfer the conpany to the next generation, but of those, just 60 per cent had identified who that would be.

More than half -- 58 per cent -- of respondents said no formula valuation of the business had been conducted.

Struggling financial literacy

Nearly a quarter -- 23 per cent -- of business owers struggle to identify the cost that affects their business most, according to a survey of 503 Canadian small business owners conducted by Sage North America. And the smaller the business, the more likely it is to face that challenge, the survey found.

Among other findings: 48 per cent said cash flow was the most important aspect of financial manaagement for their business, followed by managing costs, for 39 per cent, and invoicing, for 37 per cent.

As wlel, for 53 per cent, dealing with taxes, for 27 per cent, managing sales and marketing and for 26 per cent, managing the business's finances were their weakest areas.

Government invests $20-million in CYBF

The federal government announced that it is investing another $20-million over two years in the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, which offers support to young entrepreneurs.

It has already put $57-million toward supporting the CYBF since 2001.

"This invesment will help kickstart an estimated 1,000 new businesses in Canada over the next two years," said Maxime Bernier, minister of state for small business and tourism, in a release about the announcement.


Small business week events

Thee list of events across the country around Small Business Week is long. For ideas of some events going on near you or that might interest you, check out the BDC's events calendar.

Small Business Summit is coming

Don't forget to mark your calendar for the Small Business Summit being brought to you by our Report on Small Business in conjunction with Achilles Media. It takes place Nov. 8 in Toronto.

Business sustainability conference

The Montreal office of the Network for Business Sustainability will hold its first SME international conference beginning tomorrow, Oct. 20, through to Oct. 22, to help small and medium-sized businesses learn about sustainable business practices. For more details, click here.


B.C. camouflage maker: the invisible man

Guy Cramer, founder of HyperStealth Biotechnology of Maple Ridge, keeps his high-tech military camouflage designs under wraps, and his best work is considered classified information


Small businesses place big bets on gaming

The high stakes for small businesses in the gaming industry were the subject of an August story in Report on Small Business. With large companies maneuvering to get in on the action, smaller players are forced to find less obvious ways to get their piece of the gaming pie, the story reported.

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