Trust, in my opinion, is the most valuable business commodity and the first step in earning trust is to listen.
This is why BC Lottery Corp. (BCLC) is inviting several local governments south of the Fraser to take part in our Expression of Interest process. We want to gauge whether their communities would be interested in hosting a gaming facility.
You may recall the City of Surrey voted by a slim margin against hosting a casino in South Surrey in 2013.
So why are we doing this again?
First of all, we respect the authority of local governments to determine whether they want a facility in their community; however, we can’t ignore market opportunities, particularly given the pace of growth in the region.
Furthermore, this isn’t just about one city – the identified market we are considering for a potential new gaming facility includes Delta and the Tsawwassen First Nation as well.
We’ve monitored the marketplace in the south-of-the-Fraser region and have watched the population grow and change the last several years. There is currently one bingo hall and one casino with a racetrack that serve the identified market within the region.
The recent improvements and re-branding of Fraser Downs as Elements Casino by our service provider, Great Canadian Gaming, have proved successful to date. We now have a much better casino entertainment destination in the Cloverdale Town Centre.
However, our market analysis indicates there is still an under-served market for gaming entertainment in the northern and western parts of the South Fraser region. In order to better serve our customers, it’s important that we consider providing a variety of entertainment options that are accessible.
The same marketplace assessment also found the incremental revenue potential of a new gambling facility is estimated to be between $25 to $50 million. As the organization that is accountable for generating net income to support the public good, we have to continually look for opportunities to provide great gaming entertainment for adults while encouraging responsible gambling behaviour.
With programs such as BCLC’s GameSense and the province’s Responsible and Problem Gambling Program, we’ve demonstrated that gaming can be delivered responsibly and with the right programs in place for those who may need them.
In addition, we collaborate with communities to ensure we are accepted as part of their development plan for entertainment, jobs and non-tax revenue. Local governments share 10 per cent of the net gaming income generated by a facility in their community. A new facility could generate about $1.5 to $3 million annually for the host community. That is on top of the well-paying jobs a potential facility would bring to the region.
BCLC is committed to a clear, transparent process. We’re asking communities to consider how a gaming facility might fit their development plans, and listening to their feedback. We will only consider moving to the next phase if one or more local governments express interest.
If more than one local government expresses interest, we will select one based on the submissions and with the support of a third-party fairness monitor. When we do that, the odds are in favour of the right outcome, whatever that might be.
President and CEO, BCLC