City of Kamloops could take financial hit due to casino strike

The City of Kamloops doesn’t yet know how the Cascades Casino strike will impact its bottom line, but if last year is any indication, it stands to lose a half-million dollars by the end of the month.

Provincial data indicates that from July 1 to Sept. 30 of last year, the city received $502,000 from revenues at Cascades, as part of a provincial revenue-sharing deal that gives B.C. municipalities 10 per cent of gambling revenues from facilities within their jurisdictions.

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In Kamloops, that also includes Chances Gaming Centre, though that facility netted significantly less for the city than Cascades during the same quarter of last year, at $43,000.

The same quarter in recent years netted the city from Cascades/Lake City Casino: $522,000 (2016), $509,000 (2015) and $452,000 (2014).

More than 200 workers have been rotating on the picket line at the Aberdeen casino since June 29, with wages the issue.

While Cascades remains open for business, the parking lot has not been full.

City of Kamloops corporate services director Kathy Humphrey said the city is waiting for the quarterly numbers, which will soon be released by the BC Lottery Corporation.

She noted unknown factors include increased traffic at Chances and a potential bounce-back effect that could result should the strike be resolved.

“The thing is, we don’t know,” she said.

The province will release more information after the quarter wraps up at the end of the month. Humphrey said any loss in revenue won’t affect the city in the immediate future.

The city doesn’t roll the dice when it comes to gambling money.

Gambling funds are used for one-off community enhancements, such as topping off capital projects for beautification.

Humphrey said the city can’t rely on gambling funds to pay staff salaries or maintain roads because the revenue may not be consistent.

“Purposefully, gaming has always been a nice-to-have pot,” Humphrey said.

B.C. municipalities have received $52.7 million in gambling revenues through the first six months of 2018.

In 2017, Cascades operations netted the city a total of $1.88 million. By comparison, Chances revenue led to $708,000 going to city hall.

In the first six months of 2018, Cascades operations led to $985,000 being deposited with the city.

Meanwhile, the strike continues following four days of talks between casino owner Gateway Casinos and the B.C. Government Employees’ Union.

Gateway said there was no progress made, noting the two sides are too far apart on wage issues.

Employees at four Gateway-owned casinos in Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton are on picket lines.

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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