The B.C. Lottery Corporation has confirmed that the Newton Community Gaming Centre will close its doors for good after April 21.
“BCLC’s service provider for the Newton facility is Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited, and its lease for the location expires later this year,” said BCLC spokesperson Anjee Gill.
“Gateway Casinos is working to transition its employees from the Newton facility to other Gateway properties in the region, wherever possible,” Gill added. BCLC removed slot machines from the Newton facility in 2014 and since then, it’s operating solely as a bingo hall.
Newton BIA director Philip Aguirre said “the writing was on the wall” for the closure of the Newton bingo hall ever since the gaming licence moved to Delta last year.
“The Newton Business Improvement Association believes that losing tenants is never a good thing,” Aguirre told the Now-Leader. “Vacant lots do not improve the vibrancy of a community. For the past four years we have been advocating for revitalization within the town centre. However, growth has been delayed as the community waits for rapid transit to venture down King George Boulevard.”
On Sept. 7, 2017, BCLC announced that Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd. is set to move the Newton centre to the Delta Town and Country Inn after the site received preliminary approval. That, after BCLC declared in 2016 that Delta was its preferred location for a new gambling and entertainment facility south of the Fraser.
Gateway’s proposed Delta gaming facility will feature a hotel, two dining establishments, meetings rooms and, of course, the casino.
In November 2017, Delta staff received a rezoning application for the proposed casino site. Since then, the city has put on three public information sessions for residents, and the proposed casino application was discussed in a multi-committee meeting.
Gateway also held a handful of their own public information sessions.
Last September, Aguirre decried the relocation of Newton’s gaming facility to South Delta.
“We could’ve done something with that,” Aguirre said at the time. “We lost another chip to play with, another option. We’re very passive in Surrey in the sense that we want to do things but we’re just not aggressively going after those resources, that infrastructure, for the good or the bad.”
Calling it a “loss of potential” for his community, Aguirre said last year that he had hoped the property that housed the gaming facility at the corner of 72nd Avenue and King George Boulevard would be revitalized.
“Now that it’s off the table, what are the other options? What is the plan for Newton? Is it to continue to wait for LRT? Which now is even murkier because of the removal of the tolls. So LRT will probably be delayed even more,” he said.“We’ve all been promised revitalization because of LRT, so what’s plan B?
Aguirre said last fall that he wants to see a better overall plan for Newton. “The city talks about this cultural corridor in Newton, and gaming fits into that, it’s entertainment… they talk about Newton being a cultural corridor but what connects it?” he said at the time. “Is it the cultural centre? The Bell Performing Arts Centre? Bear Creek Park? There’s no real cultural scene here other than those three facilities.”