EDITORIAL: Casino question chicken and egg

Is 'threat' of second gaming facility BCLC's way of forcing Great Canadian's hand on expansion plan?

West Shore communities receive direct and indirect benefits from the presence of the View Royal Casino.

Not only do they share in the revenues generated by this well-established and thriving Great Canadian Gaming Corporation operation, there is a certain amount of spinoff business that comes to area merchants as a result.

With a healthy casino translating into ongoing revenue for View Royal and Langford, specifically and to a lesser degree Colwood, Esquimalt, Sooke, Metchosin and Highlands, it’s not surprising that local politicians – especially those from View Royal and Langford – have been protesting against the possibility of a second significant gaming facility being located in either Saanich or Victoria.

Great Canadian has remained rather low key on its plans for a proposed expansion worth in the neighbourhood of $20 million. But View Royal Mayor David Screech, the lead voice against the B.C. Lottery Corporation’s investigation into siting for a second location in the region, has indicated the redevelopment could transform View Royal Casino into a River Rock-style operation. Such amenities as a medium-sized theatre, more restaurants and additional gaming areas would without a doubt lift the revenues received by the participating municipalities.

While Mayor Screech and other supporters of the one big casino idea can be applauded for protecting their turf, we wonder if this whole exercise is a way for BCLC to force Great Canadian’s hand and get them to commit to the major expansion.

Opening another large gaming centre within relatively close driving distance of View Royal would clearly remove revenue from the existing casino if it stays as is. Would spreading out the wealth be of greater benefit to the broader community? Possibly.

But would having a limited number of communities benefit from a much larger pot, the result of creating a major entertainment centre on the West Shore, be of more benefit? That’s the $20 million question, one for which the BCLC appears to want an answer.

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