Friday, July 24, 2009

The House makes its take and so does the town!

“They have been very reasonable corporate citizens to the community. They have funded as well sponsored various events in the community and so I think there are people who enjoy having that facility”— Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem, offering his thoughts on a successful year financially for the Chances Gaming Centre

As we outlined on our blog back on Monday, Chances Gaming Centre has had a rather successful full year of operation, that according to the financial picture presented by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation this month.

The local gaming centre which opened in the fall of 2007, celebrated a full year of operation in 2008 and it has proven to be a destination for many, both locals and visitors alike.

Thursday’s paper outlines the financial news from Chances, as well as how the centre is being perceived in the community now that it’s become a fixture on the local scene and a contributor to the city’s tax base.

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Page 2

The motto at Chances Gaming Centre is "Fun is Good" - and fun is also profitable for the local gaming centre.

Numbers published by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation point to a successful 2008-2009 for the local gambling establishment. Chances generated $10 million in revenues last year, up from the nearly $4 million it had generated during the first year of operation.

While the $6 million in revenues might seem like a huge jump from the year before, it is important to note that gaming centre was not in operation for the entire 2007-08 year, which may have skewed numbers.

It was a controversial subject in the community when the previous city council accepted Chances' application to open in Prince Rupert. But according to Mayor Jack Mussallem, the good generated by the gaming centre has outweighed the negative feelings towards it.

And the good is there in tax revenue.

The city received $400,000 under casino revenues transfered from the province - a sum that the city is able to put toward productive use for the community.

"They have been very reasonable corporate citizens to the community. They have funded as well sponsored various events in the community and so I think there are people who enjoy having that facility [in Prince Rupert] ," said Mussallem.

Mussallem said that he understands those who say the gaming centre may cause social problems.

"Although there are people that have' some concerns, they are largely the ones who fear for people that get hooked on gambling," said Musallem. "But it is a lot like alcohol. There are some people who shouldn't drink and it may take them longer in their lives to come to the realization that they are one of those people."

Given the divided opinion surrounding the casino's original opening, the Daily News asked locals what they thought about the establishment now.

People on Prince Rupert's streets are still divided over whether or not the casino has provided as much public good as it had financial.

According to 65-year old, Fred Wesley, the city would be better off without it. Wesley, who is originally from Kitimaat Village, but has lived in Prince Rupert since 1965, said he felt that are too many people living on welfare in town to justify having a place where they might waste their money.

"If you are going to waste your money, I would just spend it on a lottery ticket instead," said Wesley.

But others don't mind the gaming centre and say that it's up to the gamblers to make a choice on how they will spend their own money.

"I am anti-gambling myself, but I love the restaurant and I have a drink from time-to-time there," said Holiday Ascroft, 19. She added that although she may not gamble herself, she does support Chances.

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