A planned move by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) to license a second casino for greater Victoria has drawn protests from a local politician who believes the area of 344,630 people is already at saturation point.
David Screech, mayor of the Victoria suburb of View Royal, which is home to the area’s only existing casino, declared that he does not believe an assertion from the BCLC that there is $45 million in untapped gaming revenues in the region and has called on the regulator to cancel the process of awarding the proposed second licence.
Mayor for the suburb since 2014, Screech stated that seven local communities including Sooke, Langford, View Royal, Colwood, Esquimalt, and Highlands benefit from the existing View Royal Casino, which is a 20-minute drive from downtown Victoria and offers 600 slots alongside an array of table games. He asserted that the proposed licensing move had already led to the View Royal Casino cancelling investment plans that could have included a new theatre for the Westshore venue.
The mayor additionally called upon the BCLC to release the market assessment it carried out before announcing its intention to licence a second casino but this has been rebuffed by the regulator due to the report allegedly containing ‘proprietary’ information.
“We would like to see the justification they are presenting that there is $45 million in untapped gaming revenues on the south island because we just simply don’t believe it,” Screech told the CBC. “I think they have a responsibility. They are a public corporation or a Crown corporation and they should be releasing that information to their stakeholders.”
For its part, the BCLC declared that it would be meeting with Screech in private to discuss his opposition while stating that local government consent is to be a necessary pre-condition regardless of which area is selected to host the new venue.