Thumbs down on casino benefit reform

Gambling revenue sharing between have and have-not cities get thumbs down at UBCM

At the recent Union of British Columbia Municipalities AGM, a proposal to redistribute some of the $82 million a year casino host cities get to cities without gambling facilities was rejected amid concerns over how it would work.

Advocates said the current system where only host cities get 10 per cent of gambling profits divides cities into winners and losers and should be reformed to spread the wealth.

Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore said most patrons are now registered through player cards, so the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) could easily estimate how much money is spent at a given casino by people who live outside that host city. This would allow benefits to be apportioned equitably to other municipalities, he argued.

“The current regulations are pitting communities against each other. It’s creating an injustice between local governments around the province.”

Port Coquitlam reps said they didn’t intend for host cities to lose money, suggesting the province could keep them whole, while providing a per capita share of gaming profits to the have-nots – a scenario many at UBCM considered unlikely.

Other delegates said have-not cities made their choice in the past not to have a casino – or the local costs and impacts that sometimes accompany them.

View Royal Coun. David Screech said BCLC couldn’t provide the address of every patron and suggested interested communities pursue local gambling revenue-sharing agreements.