Spencer Chandra Herbert
Official Opposition Critic for Tourism, Culture, and the Arts
MLA, Vancouver West End
B.C. NDP CAUCUS
Jan. 9, 2011
B.C. LIBERALS MUST ANSWER ON SUBSIDIES FOR PROPOSED EDGEWATER CASINO EXPANSION – NDP
VANCOUVER — As residents of Vancouver prepare to formally weigh in on the proposed Edgewater casino expansion, the B.C. Liberal government must let the public know whether the casino is going to end up being subsidized by taxpayers even while gaming grants for community groups are being cut, the B.C. New Democrats say.
“The people of B.C. have every right to question whether the top priority for gaming revenue should be subsidizing private casino companies’ car parks and show lounges even while the B.C. Liberals are slashing funds for small charities that help seniors in need, youth engage through the arts, people learn to read, and adults with disabilities connect with their communities,” said New Democrat tourism and arts critic Spencer Chandra Herbert.
“British Columbians were told the proposed Edgewater casino expansion would pay for the $563 million B.C. Place roof project, but we now have to wonder if the public will actually be paying for the casino.The B.C. Liberals must tell the people of B.C. how much government revenue the proposed expanded Edgewater casino is eligible for, and justify why public money should be used to subsidize well-established private companies that are generating hundreds of millions in profits every year.”
Casinos can receive a subsidy amounting to three per cent of their net win in the form of a Facility Development Commission, which can be used for capital projects. An additional one-time subsidy, an Accelerated Facility Development Commission, can amount to an additional two per cent of a casino’s net win. Together, these subsidies have offset around 40 per cent of the capital costs of casino development in B.C. in recent years.
The proposed new Edgewater casino would have double the number of slot machines and table games compared to the current casino, and, if approved by Vancouver council, would be the largest casino in B.C. The expanded Edgewater would pay an expected $6 million a year in lease payments to the province.
While it is not known how much subsidies in FDCs and AFDCs the proposed casino would receive, Chandra Herbert pointed out that since the province estimates the new Edgewater will bring in $130 million per year in revenue, it can be estimated that the expanded casino could receive between $3.5 million and $6.5 million per year in subsidies.
“Casinos were welcomed into B.C. with the understanding that they would generate revenues for non-profits and charities. But under the B.C. Liberals, that social contract has been broken. Gaming grants are actually lower now than they were in the 1990s, even though revenues from gaming have increased dramatically.” said Chandra Herbert.
According to figures supplied to the Vancouver Sun by the B.C. Lottery Commission, casino operators received $40 million in FDCs in 2009-10, up from $16.5 million in 2001-02.
The B.C. New Democrats are advocating for open and transparent governance, including the separation of gaming policy and gaming enforcement in separate ministries, and a full restoration of gaming grants to charities.
Contact: Sara Goldvine 250-208-3560