Saanich ready to roll the dice on casino

B.C. Lottery Corporation shortlists its campaign for a new South Island casino licence to Victoria and Saanich

A redeveloped Playtime Bingo hall in Tillicum is an early option for a potential new Saanich casino or gaming centre.

Saanich is one step closer to getting its first casino as the B.C. Lottery Corporation shortlisted its campaign for a new South Island casino licence to Victoria and Saanich.

Esquimalt was included but is now out of the running.

“Certainly it will attract business to [whatever] area it’s built in, and we have a rough idea revenue for this facility will be $1.8 to $2.5 million, which would help our economy,” said Mayor Richard Atwell.

Saanich was informed last week by a letter from BCLC that included questions based on five criteria. They now have a June deadline to answer a series of questions from BCLC. A BCLC evaluation team, overseen by a third-party fairness monitor, scored each of the previous submissions based on criteria related to community support, geographic, economic and demographic considerations.

At this point, Saanich is compliant and happy to move forward with the process.

Only once BCLC has designated Saanich as a priority location will mayor and council hold the conversation with the public as to whether or not a casino is the right move for the community.

BCLC explained there are two types of gaming facilities being sought, either a Community Gaming Centre, which combines bingo (or electronic bingo), slot machines, traditional lottery products, restaurant, lounge, tele-theatre and a small stage for live entertainment performances, or a full-service gambling casino with slot machines and table games. Additional amenities at a casino could  include restaurants, a lounge, theatre, conference centre, hotel, spa and a stage area for live shows.

BCLC is seeking a facility with a gaming floor in the range of 15,000 to 30,000 square feet and a minimum of 400 parking stalls.

It also wants to minimize the impact on the View Royal casino. To do so, it will measure the drive time between the two.

Local governments that host a gaming facility receive a 10-per-cent share of the net income.

Among the interests are Playtime Bingo at Tillicum. The facility is already licensed, is in a commercial area and has the room for a potential upgrade. However, BCLC has requested a number of suitable locations be identified.

“First of all they’re asking us how we’ll move it through our system so they can compare Saanich and Victoria for their business analysis,” Atwell said.

Should Tillicum’s Playtime Bingo be considered, there’s the question of rezoning and what amenities Saanich would like included. There’s also a focus on what timelines to expect.

“It’s not limited to a Saanich-owned property, there are only a few companies that would bid for the contract which would include buying property,” Atwell said.

Playtime Gaming was recently purchased by Gateway, while Great Canadian Gaming is the other major gaming company in B.C.

BCLC launched the process in October 2015 after it identified a marketplace opportunity for an additional gaming facility in Greater Victoria.

 

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