The province said local governments need to request changes to current agreements over how gambling revenues are divvied up in B.C. if they want a piece of online gambling revenue.
According to B.C.’s attorney general’s office: “Any change to the current host financial assistance agreements between host local governments and the province of B.C. would need to be formally requested by the municipalities and approved by both parties.”
As it stands, municipalities that have casinos or bingo halls within their boundaries receive 10 per cent of those venues’ revenue. There is no revenue-sharing agreement for online gambling revenue, the last remaining legal way to gamble in B.C. now that the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered bingo halls and casinos, including Cascades and Chances casinos in Kamloops.
Last week, Kamloops Coun. Arjun Singh suggested local governments should get a share of online gambling revenue as more people turn online in order to abide by provincial physical distancing rules. He argued the province knows from where gamblers are playing, including Kamloops residents.
According to the province, the Kamloops-based British Columbia Lottery Corporation transfers revenue generated from its online gaming website, PlayNow.com, to the provincial government, which in turn uses that money to support government programs and services.
“This revenue helps support key government programs and essential services, including health care and education in communities all across B.C.,” the attorney general’s office wrote in its response to KTW queries.
In addition, it noted that in 2018-2019, the province distributed $98.4 million to local governments as part of the casino agreement, $2.5 million of which went to Kamloops. It remains unclear how much the city would have received had online gambling revenue been included.