Newton bingo hall will close – but when?

Delta casino to replace Newton’s 624-seat gaming centre is in the works and would include more gambling and entertainment features.

Newton Community Gaming Centre.

Newton Community Gaming Centre.

SURREY — It looks like Surrey will say goodbye to the Newton Community Gaming Centre as the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has chosen Delta as its “preferred” location for a new casino south of the Fraser River.

“The closure of this location will be a result of the relocation to a new property in Delta,” said Tanya Gabara, public relations director for Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd. “The current bingo operations at the Newton Community Gaming Centre remains open for business. They will remain open until such time as a new facility is ready.”

A new Delta casino to replace Newton’s 624-seat gaming centre, which features a bingo hall at 7093 King George Boulevard, is in the works and would include more gambling and entertainment features.

On Nov. 9, the BCLC  announced the Corporation of Delta is its “preferred host local government for a potential new gambling and entertainment facility,” based on “a variety of factors including strong market potential, community plans and transportation access.”

Philip Aguirre, president of the Newton Business Improvement Association, which represents 370 businesses, said the recent news  affecting the gaming centre “hasn’t been on the radar for the residents and the business community.”

“It’s not going to be a great loss in sales and revenue in the area,” Aguirre said of the NCGC’s eventual closure. “However, it is a loss of potential.”

Gabara said a site for a new casino in Delta has yet to be determined and there is no timeline for construction. She said she could not yet say if Newton’s 22 employees will be offered jobs at the Delta casino. “It’s very early on in the process,” she said.

In June, BCLC asked local governments south of the Fraser to submit expressions of interest in hosting a potential gambling and entertainment facility. Delta and the Tsawwassen First Nation made submissions but Surrey declined.

Harry Bains, NDP MLA for Surrey-Newton, recalled when slot machines were added to the NCGC. “There were complaints about expansion, and then they took them away,” he said.

The BCLA decided in 2014 to remove 150 slot machines. A press release indicated “changing local market conditions which do not satisfy BCLC’s vision to offer outstanding gaming and entertainment” was the reason why.

“I heard from Gateway about them moving,” Bains said of the Newton centre. “It’s a done deal. The building is sold.”

He’s not aware of any hue and cry about it, though. “I haven’t heard any complaints about them moving,” he told the Now.

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com