Tech company not qualified for program, says Perry

Ryan Ross
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Virgin Gaming is Toronto-based online gaming company backed by Richard Branson's Virgin brand

Virgin Gaming opens an office in Charlottetown. Company officials, from left, Bill Levy and Rob Segal are seen here with Virgin founder, Richard Branson.

Giving support to tech company Virgin Gaming through a program meant to help entrepreneurs is a misuse of the funds, says Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry.

Perry said he supports bringing new businesses to P.E.I., but he questions whether or not Virgin Gaming meets the Launchpad program's criteria.

"That's for P.E.I. entrepreneurs to give that them little bit of a boost," he said.

Virgin Gaming is a Toronto-based online service through which people can play video games head-to-head and in tournaments for real money.

The company has partnered with several gaming companies to make their titles available for play.

It's backed by businessman Richard Branson's Virgin brand.

Last week the province announced Virgin Gaming was expanding to P.E.I. and planned to hire 35 people for customer service jobs with support from provincial labour rebates and the Launchpad program.

The Launchpad website says early stage businesses in targeted sectors that have well-developed business concepts or business plans but aren't yet profitable are eligible for the program.

They have to show the potential to commercialize new technologies, export new products and services to target markets, create new jobs and wealth in P.E.I., and strengthen the province's economy.

Perry raised the issue during Thursday's question period and in an interview he said that by the government saying Virgin Gaming will create jobs in the information technology sector it was misrepresenting what those jobs actually are.

"These actually are customer service representative jobs which are $10, $12, $14 at the most an hour," he said.

The government has also been misrepresenting the fact Virgin Gaming is involved in gambling, Perry said.

"This government is supporting a business that targets our youth and feeding a potential addiction to gambling."

But Innovation Minister Al Roach said there is more to Virgin Gaming than just gambling and the company will have a customer service operation in P.E.I.

"We're not running a gambling operation out of here," he said.

A lot of the games that Virgin Gaming supports can be played head-to-head without gambling, although some do involve money, he said.

"There are other programs there where they can gamble, yes."

Roach also said Virgin Gaming does qualify for the Launchpad program.

"Prince Edward Island is open for business and we're happy to have companies that are going to come here that are going to create jobs," he said.

Virgin Gaming already had a presence in P.E.I. and has been working with VisionQuest in P.E.I. for one year and employed four people, Roach said.

"This is just an expansion really of that and they've decided that they're going to expand that business."

Roach said the average salary at Virgin Gaming is around $35,000, which means the employees in P.E.I. won't be all making minimum wage.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

Organizations: Virgin Gaming

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Dick
    March 13, 2014 - 16:50

    They have closed their Charlottetown office on March 11th. Staff were let go without any notice.

  • wow
    December 10, 2012 - 04:38

    I find it very surprising that people are complaining about job creation. You are right that the company is worth quite a bit of money which means they could take these JOBS anywhere they would like, so why not give them some incentive to come to PEI? Who's to say that they won't expand their operations here in the future and bring even more JOBS to the island?

  • certain
    December 09, 2012 - 23:11

    Islanders hate everything (referring to the people who already commented). Y'all are a bunch of haters and you deserve nothing good for being a hater.

  • Janet Gaudet
    December 09, 2012 - 18:08

    If I had one wish it would be that a provincial election would be called ASAP. I wouldn't ask for anything else. Now if I could just find a bottle with a genie in it, I'd get my wish granted. There is nothing that would make me happier. What a horrible year this has been for Islanders who are struggling financially and are faced with even harder times when HST comes in. Every day there is something new to read about in regard to this financially incompetent, uncaring, cold-hearted, useless government. They remind me of Ebenezer Scrooge (before he changed into a kind person) and the grinch that stole Christmas. I'm sure Mr. Ghiz and his government members will be having a lovely Christmas with lots to eat in their warm homes while others have to go to food banks or eat at upper room soup kitchen.

  • finnigan
    December 09, 2012 - 17:48

    This is not news, -- this government do not understand governing,--- rules, policies, laws, etc. is totaly foreign to them. If they can break or circumvent, they will . They would sell their grandmother for a farthing, - and they will sell Islanders out to live in poverty, ----- for what are we being punnished??

  • jody
    December 09, 2012 - 17:41

    smoke-mirrors-give-aways- waste and fleecing islanders, - that is what this Gov. have become experts at, --- but you all wanted the scoundrels-- I LOOK FORWARD TO LOOKING HIM IN THE EYE NEW YEARS DAY, then he does not have to come to my kitchen table and explain the HST----what a joke-- if we are lucky this CHICKEN will be long gone before the next election --- explaining nothing to nobody

  • Brenda
    December 09, 2012 - 15:53

    These companies should take their buisness and their jobs to areas where thay would be appreciated - not Charlottetown or Hal Perry's district. Steady income is needed and raises will come. Maybe they could try Borden or Kensington or even Summerside. But then again maybe people should just stay home and criticise everything and offer negative comments.

  • Joe Blow
    December 09, 2012 - 14:51

    And good work by Perry for providing us with some of the info that the government chose to omit...like the online gambling aspect! The face is, this company has tons of money....there is no reason for us to cut corners for them. If they want to open up shop here on PEI...they can do it on their own dime. We need to stop the handouts in order to entice companies to come to PEI....it always comes back to bite us in the end and costs us tax payers a lot of money.

  • Joe Blow
    December 09, 2012 - 12:13

    More shady business deals done by the Ghiz Liberals!! I guess nothing changes. Somehow in this business venture....the Island taxpayers are going to have to pay through the nose while someone in government or their friends or family will make a ton of money off this. There will be people from off Island coming here to make the big money with this company and the minimum wage jobs will be left for Islanders. You can rest assured that citizens of PEI will lose out on this business deal somehow and that corners have been cut by the government. What ever happened with just doing a normal, legitimate business deal where the tax payers and potential new employees benefit instead of the politicians.

  • not in favour
    December 09, 2012 - 11:50

    Branson and company are worth billions. They don't need a hand-out to create a few jobs. Forgt it. PEI can't be supporting a welfare system for large corporations. This is an insult to every struggling Islander.

  • Greeneyed Monster
    December 09, 2012 - 11:41

    So the head cheese (imported of course) at Virgin Gaming, PEI makes 55K annually and his (local) subordinate makes 15K annually...at an average of 35K annually!!! It's all very clear now...more Liberal Wesenomics!