Chris Fairclough from the BC Lottery Corporation

More gaming eyed for Terrace, B.C.

At stake is construction of new gaming centre, hotel, convention centre

THE COMPANY which owns the Chances gaming centre here is still interested in an expanded facility at a new location within the city limits but it is also suggesting it might seek a home elsewhere in the area.

A comment from Pomeroy Lodging public relations vice president Jackie Clayton refutes rumours that the Grande Prairie, Alberta-based hotel conglomerate which purchased Chances here in 2014, had contemplated pulling out altogether.

“There are other options in the area,” said Clayton. “We don’t necessarily have to be right in the city. We would prefer to be right in the city, but ultimately we want to operate in the area.”

Pomeroy has its eye on a facility similar to that which it owns in Fort St. John where a gaming centre operates at the same location as accommodation and other amenities.

“At the end of the day we want to have a convention centre, a hotel, swimming pool and an enhanced gaming facility,” said Clayton.

One property which interests Pomeroy is owned by the city and is a former portion of a log yard in the light industrial area along Keith Ave. which was once part of the Skeena Cellulose sawmill complex.

But first the company and gambling regulator BC Lottery Corporation is gauging the public response to increasing the number of gaming machines, which currently stands at 74, in addition to 144 bingo seats at the Chances facility on Legion Ave.

Officials from both the company and the lottery corporation have been making regular visits to the area as part of their examination into an expansion.

But in order for both to move forward in that direction, they would need the approval of city council.

“We will measure when it goes before council what public sentiment is,” said lottery corporation official Chris Fairclough, adding that they are still in stage one of gathering information.

City council last considered – and then rejected – a request in 2012 to add more gaming machines.

The BC Lottery Corporation provides revenue to the City of Terrace through various streams because it operates within the municipality.

For the 2014/2015 fiscal year Terrace Chances made $11,689,000 from its gaming machines and it also made $1,008,000 from bingo for a total of over $12 million, an amount almost exactly the same as the 2013/2014 fiscal year.

It represented just over four per cent of the total provincial revenue of $308,759,000 from gaming.

Of the $12 million in total profits, the City of Terrace received $705,000 in gaming revenue from Chances in 2014/2015 and $675,000 in 2013 as well as property taxes, according to the city’s annual report.

Other grants are also given out to communities through a separate stream. These gaming grants of around $850,000 were given to 36 community groups in Terrace last year, said Fairclough.

One other measure being considered by the lottery corporation, and separate from any plans to expand Chances, is having a person at the centre who would provide information on problem gambling.

This person’s wages would be paid through the provincial government’s gaming policy enforcement branch and wouldn’t be unique to Terrace because a broader plan would have such staff on hand at smaller centres—whereas currently they are located more at larger gaming centres across B.C.