October 28, 2015 - 2:36 PM
PENTICTON - With the future location of the Lakeside Casino in Penticton up in the air another group has come forward with a plan it hopes Gateway Casinos will bet on.
The Penticton Lakeside Resort recently announced its intention not to renew the casino’s lease when it comes due in May of 2017 and while the City of Penticton is interested in securing Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd.'s Penticton Lakeside Casino, it is not the only one.
Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation Consultant Chris Scott says the band has also been aggressively courting Gateway Casinos as the band moves forward with its development of the locatee lands across the Okanagan River channel.
“We think it’s the best place for the casino to relocate to. We’ve got visibility, easy access, and amenities like the channel. We’re within walking distance to Skaha Lake,” Scott points out.
He says placing the casino on the reserve could herald the beginning of a southern economic zone for the city.
Scott says the band has already hired a graphic artist to produce rendered drawings of what the casino would look like, adding the band is also looking for a hotel to go along with it. Scott says he’s done some research on what the casino needs in terms of space, noting parking is a big issue with casinos, and sees the reserve lands as the best choice in that aspect as well. He used as an example Gateway Casinos' new casino in Kamloops, which opened this past August and sits on approximately 6.5 acres.
Scott says the band has reached a point in discussions with Gateway Casinos where they need to know what the intentions of the company are.
“We’re keen to work with them, but we’ve come to the point where we want to know, if we’re not in the game, tell us, don’t play with us,” he says.
Scott believes the company will need at least eight months lead time to build a new facility, after initial development stages have been completed.
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit says the city is 'trying to accommodate public curiosity as well as respect the process of negotiation,' when it comes to revealing how close a deal might be between the city and Gateway Casinos.
“Securing the casino in the city is the number one priority for us right now,” Jakubeit says, noting, “We don’t have a definitive plan to unveil to the community yet."
Jakubeit notes the operation’s jobs, tax revenue and gaming grant are important contributions to Penticton. He says the casino presently returns nearly $2 million in taxes and other revenue to the city, in addition to it’s gaming grant of $1.6 million.
The mayor wouldn’t elaborate, but says the city has a few locations that would meet the specifications required by a modern, expanded casino.
"We’re not prepared to disclose that just yet—- whether those locations are to their fancy, or what they are working towards,” he says.
Jakubeit says both parties are conscious of timelines needed to pick a suitable site, go through the design phase, get permits and build the new facility.
“I would suspect before December is over and done with, they will have to have a place in mind, and announced, and that whole process ready. Even that is an aggressive schedule, but not impossible,” he says.
Gateway Casinos Director of Public Relations Tanya Gabara says the organization has met with many landowners and sellers in the last little while.
"I don’t have specifics on who we’ve been talking to, I know we’ve been looking at the entire Penticton area inside and outside the city limits,” she says.
With Gateway’s lease with Lakeside Resort expiring in May of 2017, Gabara says it’s her understanding there is a time frame for finding and building a new facility.
“As soon as we’ve satisfied all the regulatory and legal requirements, because we do have regulatory requirements involved in our relocation, then we can come out and tell the public exactly what we’re doing, where we’re going and when that’s going to happen,” she says, adding that even though there is no formalized time frame, the company has to move towards making a firm decision sometime in the near future in order to be ready for the end of their lease with Lakeside Casinos.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015