Casino seeks level playing field on liquor licence

View Royal council supports expanding service to gaming floor

Players gaming at slot machines like these at the View Royal Casino may yet be able to drink while they’re gambling. Operator Great Canadian Casinos is applying for a change to its liquor licence that would allow patrons to consume alcohol outside of the existing lounge area.

The View Royal Casino is hoping the third time is the charm.

Following two unsuccessful applications to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to allow alcohol consumption on the gaming floor, the West Shore casino is attempting once more to make it happen.

“We want to be on a level playing field with other gaming establishments in B.C., that’s why we requested this,” said casino general manager Kwai Lam.

“Our guests are accustomed to other properties in B.C. allowing liquor while they are gaming and we want to make sure (they) get the same while in Victoria.”

The View Royal casino is the only one on Vancouver Island that does not allow drinking on the gaming floor, Lam said.

As part of the process, the LCLB has been canvassing businesses and residents within a half-mile radius of the casino.

Today (Aug. 8) is the deadline for offering public input on the application, after which the LCLB will review comments and feedback before making a decision on the request.

Casual players in other casinos are accustomed to walking around the gaming area with a drink and watching their friends and relatives play, Lam said.

“They can’t take (drinks) out of the restaurant in Victoria when (they) can in Vancouver, Duncan and Nanaimo.”

If the application is approved, View Royal’s licensed capacity of 132 would be increased to 1,147 to include the casino floor and the Penny Lane Bistro and Bar. Operator Great Canadian Casinos is also applying for a patio licence which would bump up serving capacity by another 430.

When the casino first opened it was understood that liquor availability would be limited, View Royal Coun. John Rogers said, but recent changes at many other casinos and the success of those programs prompted council to rethink the policy.

“Since that time it has been commonplace in the Lower Mainland and Duncan. Not only that, the casino has a fabulous program on alcohol awareness,” Rogers said. “Council doesn’t have a problem with the application at all, in fact there was support from the members.”

Lam said all staff, not just servers and bartenders, have Serving it Right certification. During peak visitation periods on Friday and Saturday nights the casino sees approximately 500 people on site, he added.

The casino’s strong proactive approach to communication with council and West Shore RCMP has been a factor in resolving issues in the past, Rogers said, and has gone a long way toward garnering support from the township.

“(Great Canadian) has been able to prove satisfactorily to members of council the permitted alcohol in other casinos has been well-managed,” he said.

“It is now time for View Royal Casino to be on standard with the rest of those in B.C.”

There is no timetable for a decision to be made on the application.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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