SURREY — Surrey city council has said no to a British Columbia Lottery Corporation proposal because it didn’t fit within the city’s gaming policy.
BCLC sent out a Request for Expression of Interest to local governments seeking support for a new gambling facility south of the Fraser River. The proposed facility is for a community gaming centre with slot machines and gaming tables.
But Surrey’s gaming policy, established in 2001, states that in order for a casino application to be considered it must also be a component of a “cluster of facilities” such as a hotel with convention and meeting facilities.
“It must be an entertainment complex if it appears in our city,” said Mayor Linda Hepner at council Monday night.
Councillor Bruce Hayne agreed.
“If we are looking at entertaining the idea of another gaming facility, it would have to be destination gaming facility,” he said. “The Request for Expressions of Interest from BCLC are for a community gaming centre and in my opinion, a community gaming centre sees money going out of the community where a destination-type facility with restaurants and other amenities would see a net flow of capital into the city.”
It was a markedly shorter conversation than the last time the casino question arose in Surrey.
In late 2012 and early 2013, a hot topic in the city was a controversial casino and entertainment complex planned for South Surrey.
Proposed by Gateway Casinos, the $100-million development would have been located on a 25-acre property at 168th Street and 10th Avenue and featured a 190-room hotel, a 60,000 square-foot gaming floor and a 27,000 square-foot convention centre. The project would have also netted the City of Surrey about $3 million annually in gaming revenue, but after a massive public outcry over the proposal and a divisive public hearing session that totalled more than 13 hours, was narrowly defeated by council in a late-night five-to-four vote.
The Newton neighbourhood has a particularly controversial history with slot machines: in 1998, Surrey city council ran the Great Canadian Casino Company out of town after BCLC installed 191 slot machines in a charity gaming hall in Newton.
The slots were added after the NDP government introduced expanded gambling in B.C., allowing slots in charity casinos. Then-mayor Doug McCallum and his Surrey Electors Team – which current mayor Dianne Watts was a member of at the time – put city staff to work to shut down the slots.
On Jan. 9, 1998, city planner Lehman Walker presented a report to council, saying that the addition of slots would draw more gamblers to Newton and cause more problems in the area. He proposed council outlaw slots from Surrey, which they did the following month.
With files from Jacob Zinn