Proposed Osoyoos casino receives support from town council

Wednesday 19th February 2020

A request to support a proposed casino in Osoyoos received hearty backing from town council this week.

On Tuesday, council voted to support the proposed casino, which needs provincial approval, to be built on Highway 3 on land owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band.

According to city hall documents, the casino will be 6,000 to 7,500 square feet in size and will feature 100 to 150 slot machines, 100 bingo machines and a 50- to 60-seat pub or bistro.

In a report to town council, it was noted that Osoyoos mayor Sue McKortoff and town chief administrative officer Allan Chabot met with Osoyoos Indian band Chief Clarence Louie and Mike Campol, managing partner of Nation First Investment Group.

"At that meeting, it was requested that mayor and council consider lending their support to an application from the band for a community gaming centre to be built on band land across the street from the Petro Canada gas station on Highway 3 in Osoyoos," said the report.

The report included a community impact report from the B.C. Lottery Corporation. That report said local governments in B.C. that host a gaming facility receive a 10 per cent share of the net revenue those facilities generate.

It said last year, 32 local governments across B.C. received $98.4 million to fund local projects and initiatives.

The BCLC report included statistics from area casinos, including Playtime Casino in Kelowna, which generated $36.697 million in total revenue in 2017-18, including $20 million from slot machines. The casino was listed as having 437 slot machines.

In Penticton, Cascades Casinos was listed as having 400 slot machines and $36.748 million in total revenue in 2017-18. The 400 slot machines pulled in $$26.685 million.

In Vernon, Lake City Casino was listed as having 397 slot machines and $35.141 million in total revenue for 2017-18. The slot machines pulled in $25.874 million.

However, town council said that "because the (casino) would be built on Band lands, the host local government share of community gaming centre revenue would be paid to the Band and not the Town of Osoyoos."

Chabot told town council on Tuesday that building a casino in Osoyoos would prevent loss of gambling dollars to other communities.

"The gaming centre would result in local construction employment and expenditures, and casino service-provider jobs once it was operational," said Chabot.

"The gaming centre may also result in increased hotel and motel and food-service revenues, overnight stays and the retention of gambling revenues that currently leave the community for other venues, such as further north in the Okanagan valley, the Lower Mainland and the state of Washington."

Council heard more from Chabot before eventually voting to support the proposed casino.

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