North Vancouver Tables Slots Issue

Following a recent public meeting, the North Vancouver, British Columbia city council decided to put off lifting the 20-year ban on slot machines. Playtime Community Gaming, authorized by the B.C. Lottery Corporation to operate gaming facilities on the North Shore, wants to build a community gaming facility with 300-plus slots.

The city council in North Vancouver, British Columbia, recently held a public meeting regarding lifting the 20-year-old ban on slot machines, but instead decided to research the matter further.

Officials of the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce said lifting the ban would add jobs and tax revenue and generate more business and tourism in the city. The anti-gambling group North Van City Voices said it opposed lifting the ban since gaming facilities would not fit the North Shore’s atmosphere of healthy living and a natural environment.

However, several speakers took issue with the political partisanship of Tom Nellis, owner of Playtime Community Gaming, which was given exclusive access to any new gaming facility on the North Shore by the B.C. Lottery Corporation. The company owns several bingo halls and community gaming centers. Nellis acknowledged Playtime paid staff members to run a phone bank for Mayor Darrell Mussatto in his re-election campaign. Nellis said his company has frequently donated to “like minded” candidates and to both of B.C.’s major provincial political parties.

Playtime initiated the request to allow a community gaming center in North Vancouver. The centers differ from casinos because they only may offer slot machines or bingo and operate during limited hours. Host municipalities receive 10 per cent of the net proceeds, equaling $2 million for North Vancouver annually, said Arthur Villa, Playtime coordinator of business development. Playtime hopes to build a 40,000 square foot facility, with half used for entertainment, dining and administrative space and half for 300 or more slot machines. No specific location had been determined, although the redeveloped Shipyards District in Lower Lonsdale had been considered.

In the last fiscal year, BCLC provided $1.17 billion to the province, of which $135 million was granted back to community nonprofit groups, including $3.5 million for more than 200 North Shore groups.