High rollers push B.C.’s gambling profits to new record

B.C. Lottery Corporation take jumps to $1.25 billion with increased $100,000 per hand bet limit in some casinos

Foreign gamblers who bet up to $100,000 in a single hand in some B.C. casinos helped drive the provincial government’s gambling take to a record high last year.

The B.C. Lottery Corporation’s net profit that goes to the province climbed 6.8 per cent to $1.25 billion in 2014-15, up $80 million from the previous year.

The corporation’s annual report says the increase was driven by “exceptional performance” from high-limit table games, which saw the maximum bet raised from $75,000 to $100,000 at some sites.

Casinos such as River Rock in Richmond and the Hard Rock Casino in Coquitlam offer “ultra-private” high-limit VIP poker rooms and baccarat salons that are popular with Asian tourists.

The increase from high-limit gamblers offset weak results in lotteries, which were down because the year served up fewer large jackpots.

While BCLC has gained from high rollers, the report warns their interest could wane.

“The recent slowdown in some national economies and international currency restrictions present business risks,” the report said, without explicitly mentioning China, where the Beijing government has posted lower growth estimates and intervened to prop up a falling stock market.

“There is risk in this revenue stream as it is heavily dependent on a relatively small international player base,” BCLC board chair Bud Smith said in the report. “We know we cannot rely on this business segment for sustainable long-term growth.”

In fact, BCLC considers both lottery and casino revenues to be mature and “facing market saturation.”

An estimated 51 per cent of B.C. adults gambled through BCLC at least monthly last year. That rate has fallen from 69 per cent in 2012 but BCLC is aiming to get it back up to 55 per cent next year.

The average B.C. resident lost $482 a year to BCLC, up from $450 in 2012 and $382 in 2005.

More than $950 million in net BCLC profit came from casinos and slot-equipped community gaming centres, compared to $304 million from lotteries and e-gaming.

River Rock had the highest combined slot and table game revenue of $420 million last year, followed by $204 million at the Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby, $150 million at Vancouver’s Edgewater Casino, $125 million at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver,  $109 million at Starlight in New Westminster, $106 million at Cascades in Langley, and $53 million at Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino in Cloverdale, where a rebranding under the name “Elements” is underway.

Overall, $1.04 billion was lost gambling at those Lower Mainland casinos in 2014.

Net profits from BCLC help the province fund health, education and grants to community groups. Host municipalities also get a share of casino profits.

Out of each dollar gambled in B.C., 43 cents goes to provincial and community programs, 23 cents goes to prizes, 23 cents goes to commissions and fees, nine per cent is operating expenses and two per cent is federal tax.

Just Posted

Police investigating after 14-year-old boy pepper sprayed at Surrey mall

Surrey RCMP say two males fled the scene before officers arrived on scene at Guildford Town Centre

Former Surrey mayor Bill Vogel dead at age 87

Vogel was Surrey’s 31st mayor, in the big chair from 1978 to 1980, and was alderman from 1973 to 1977

Woman and dogs fall through ice along Surrey’s Serpentine River

While things seem to have turned out OK this time, woman’s husband urges others to stay off thin ice

Province selects three bidding teams for Pattullo Bridge replacement

SNC-Lavalin, the company involved in allegations with Prime Minister’s Office, is among potential contractors

UPDATE: Surrey RCMP believe Cloverdale pellet gun incidents are ‘linked’

The incidents both happened in February just blocks apart

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Third measles case in Vancouver prompts letter to parents

Measles is highly contagious and spreads easily through the air

Abbotsford’s Matsqui prison beefing up security against contraband

Correctional service says officials found a number of unauthorized items during ‘exceptional search’

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

B.C. man known as ‘Papa Jimmy’ dies making daily trek to his wife

Maple Ridge 85-year-old made visits to New West for 12 years

Wilson-Raybould’s cabinet move due to departure from team: Trudeau

Jody Wilson-Raybould suddenly quit the cabinet this week, but Trudeau isn’t saying

VIDEO: Canada Winter Games athletes arrive in Red Deer from B.C. and beyond

Up to 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches will arrive throughout the day Thursday and Friday

Trump says he’ll declare national emergency to build border wall

In a rare show of bipartisanship, lawmakers voted Thursday to fund large swaths of the government

5 to start your day

A woman and dog OK after falling in Surrey river, a two-legged dog needs a prosthetic leg and more

Most Read