Kamloops won’t get a piece of government online gambling revenue, despite the closure of casinos amid the pandemic and loss of revenue to the city.
In a letter to Mayor Ken Christian released in Tuesday’s council agenda, B.C. Attorney General David Eby said he recognizes challenges faced by communities, but noted the province has helped cities in other ways during the pandemic.
Eby said the province utilizes online gambling revenue for government programs.
The BC Lottery Corporation operates the playnow.com website, which offers sports betting, poker, lottery and keno games and live casino play.
“In light of government’s use of net gambling revenue to support key programs and essential services for all communities in B.C., a change to the distribution of online gambling revenue is not contemplated at this time,” Eby wrote.
Eby noted a resolution on revenue sharing was endorsed at the Union of BC Municipalities convention last year, but added government said changes were not being considered.
Meanwhile, casinos remain closed and the city has had to delay capital projects in anticipation of lost gambling funds. The city receives 10 per cent of revenue from facilities within its jurisdiction each year, including Cascades and Chances casinos. Those facilities, however, remain shuttered amid provincial health orders to curb spread of the novel coronavirus.
The city deferred $2 million worth of projects through September that were to be funded by gambling grants, including the second phase of McArthur Island community park ($210,000), downtown streetscape improvements to Victoria Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues ($750,500), museum facility and storage improvements ($368,000), Old Courthouse renovations ($141,000) and the purchase of accessibility mats for events like Canada Day ($40,000).
The federal government earlier this week confirmed it will honour gas tax funding for communities, including $3.8 million for Kamloops. It remains unclear whether the city will receive any gambling funds from the province.