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Manitoba rural hoteliers ask province to reduce take on beer, VLT revenue

WINNIPEG – Rural hotel owners used empty beer cases to erect a giant beer-can throne at the Manitoba legislature as part of a bubbling protest over the amount of money they must turn over to the government from alcohol and VLT sales.

The hoteliers laid out a path of cut-out tombstones to the throne during Monday’s rally with the word “Hotel” written on them to mark the closure of several rural outlets in the past year.

All hotel vendors in Manitoba can keep 17 per cent from beer revenue alone.

But the Manitoba Rural Hotel Association says owners are left with little money to reinvest in their businesses after paying the government, and they want the province to rethink its take.

Association president Angelo Mondragon says sales at rural outlets are fine, however the government is taking too much.

He notes that Winnipeg outlets get more customers and it’s important that owners outside the city get a financial break.

Mondragon said liquor and gaming contributes $580 million to the province.

“A strong business that is growing, that is encouraging people to move back to the rural areas, to work the farms and things like that is better for the province,” he said.

The association spokesman said recently that Manitoba was losing a rural hotel every six weeks.

There was no immediate response from the government to the protest. (CJOB, CTV Winnipeg)