Casino strike cost southern Interior cities more than $1 million - InfoNews

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Casino strike cost southern Interior cities more than $1 million

The 19-week strike by casino workers, including these at Cascades Casino in Kamloops, cut hundreds of thousands of dollars out of municipal gaming payments.
November 22, 2018 - 6:30 PM

The 19-week strike at four Gateway Casino operations in Kamloops and the Okanagan has cut municipal payments from the lottery corporation in the affected cities by hundreds of thousands of dollars. When the final tally comes in, the losses will be more than $1 million.

The strike hit casinos in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton. Each city gets 10 percent of net gaming revenues in the form of Host Local Government Payments.

Vernon was hardest hit, losing almost $400,000 in the first three months of the strike. It received about $562,000 in 2017 but only $162,000 this year. That was a 71 per cent cut to its gaming payments from BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC), according to an email from Anjee Gill from the BCLC's media relations department.

The strike started June 29 so coincided with the province’s second fiscal quarter that ended Sept. 30. The dispute continued for another six weeks to Nov. 9. Those losses will be included in the report from the current fiscal quarter that runs through to Dec. 31.

The City of Penticton’s payment dropped 64 per cent as they lost out on almost $354,000 (from $562,000 to $208,000).

Both cities have no alternate provincially regulated gaming locations.

Kamloops, which has a Cascades Casino operated by Gateway plus a Chances Casino, saw a 28 per cent drop, totalling $202,377.

Kamloops received almost $723,000 in gaming payments in the 2017 fiscal quarter versus about $520,000 for the first three months of the strike.

The lottery corporation was able to break down which of the two operations provided the funding for the cities of Kamloops and Kelowna.

In Kamloops, the Cascades' share dropped by about $419,000 (from about $502,000 to $83,000) while Chances’ share increased by $218,000 (from $219,000 to $437,000).

The picture was drastically different in Kelowna, where the city’s payment was down only about $38,000 as almost all the losses at the Playtime Casino, which is operated by Gateway, were made up by increased revenue at the Chances Casino. For the quarter, Playtime’s share dropped by about $400,000 (from $537,000 to $137,000) while Chances saw its share jump from $571,000 to $932,500.

While the Gateway-owned casinos have card games and roulette tables, and Chances Casino has a big bingo component, both operations have hundreds of slot machines – about 300 at Chances in Kelowna versus 450 at Playtime.

The total drop in municipal revenue from BCLC for the quarter was $955,138. If the same pattern held for the final six weeks of the strike, that means municipal payments will be down close to $1.5 million.

The only other city in the Thomson-Okanagan region to get gaming payments is Salmon Arm because the Adams Lake Indian Band hosts Chances Salmon Arm. For the July to September quarter, the City of Salmon Arm got a 43 per cent boost in payments to almost $220,000.

“BCLC attributes this increase, in part, to the movement of players from other areas of the Okanagan, due to the strike,” Gill said in her email.

Here are some numbers on gaming revenues from the BCLC website:

Total Payments from BCLC to eligible Southern Interior Cities for Fiscal 2017-18 (April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018)

Kelowna

Chances: $2,249,171
Casino: $1,930,066
Total: $4,179,237

Kamloops

Chances: $899,601
Casino: $1,904,579
Total: $2,804,180

Penticton

Casino: $2,055,951

Vernon

Casino: $1,972,343

1999 through to March 31, 2017

Kelowna: $56,243,470
Kamloops: $38,826,434
Penticton: $30,801,832
Vernon: $30,252,124

— This story was updated on Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 at 11:19 a.m. to change the terminology from grants to payments and to stipulate that money is paid through BCLC and not the province.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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