Gaming funds defended

The B.C. Lottery Corporation insists Vernon’s share of gambling dollars isn’t being undermined

The B.C. Lottery Corporation insists Vernon’s share of gambling dollars isn’t being undermined.

The City of Vernon has expressed concerns that online gaming has led to fewer customers at casinos and that is impacting revenue the community receives.

“It (online) is such a small part of the business but it’s an important part of the future of the business,” said Susan Dolinski, BCLC vice-president of communications.

“For the foreseeable future, it won’t be a competitive threat to the land-based business.”

Presently, the city receives 10 per cent of the net revenue from the local casino.

Dolinski says the city’s share has gone from $1.7 million in 2006 to $2 million.

“That 18 per cent increase is well used by the city and BCLC has also supported a number of events in Vernon,” she said, referring to $50,000 over two years for problem gambling awareness.

BCLC says the net provincial income from online gaming is about $20 million.

“It’s about the size of the Vernon casino,” said Dolinski.

“That represents about one per cent of BCLC’s overall business.”

One billion dollars is returned annually to the provincial and local governments, and Dolinski says the vast majority of that comes from casinos.

“Vernon is doing quite well and B.C. is doing quite well when you look at the casino industry,” she said.

“BCLC has maintained revenue at a stable and consistent level.”

However, the city says BCLC had a record net income of $1,107.4 million in 2011/2012, largely because of egaming, while casino and community gaming revenues in B.C. fell short by $41 million.

In terms of Vernon’s request to have increased access to gaming funds, Dolinski says, “It would be a decision of the government. It wouldn’t be a decision of BCLC.”