Comment: Beware the seductive glitter of a second casino

The B.C. Lottery Corporation would do well to heed the lessons of Atlantic City's gaming-industry collapse, in which the city’s famed Boardwalk moved from glitter to rubbish, fuelled by Trump empire ambitions and corporate greed. Ordinary people — tradespeople and others — are now struggling to make do with 30-cent-per-dollar settlements.

Here in B.C., where liquefied natural gas politics and the enticement of quick dollars have B.C. Lotteries — a child of the government — looking for quick wins, the Boardwalk experience serves as a useful backdrop.

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The desire to fill provincial and local government coffers by growing the “gaming industry” to increase indirect taxation is a difficult playground. It’s a strategy in which the edges of the business case fail to consider the consequences of harm, the siphoning of family assets and the feeding of addictions, and is an issue that warrants informed consideration and owned responsibility.

As one who has observed the careful balance of the three-cornered hat — that is, the required responsible corporate citizenship and the well-managed balance sheet of capital and operational dollars — teetering on the fulcrum of community capacity to absorb consequences of hosting the industry, there is much to ponder.

Research shows — and government and community leaders know — that a majority of people do not see gambling as beneficial to communities. Still, here in View Royal and other West Shore communities, the revenues from a casino are tangible. About 70,000 residents benefit from community improvements such as sidewalks and defrayed library and recreation costs. We can see how other municipalities would find that seductive.

But who benefits if the lure of glitter is too much for market capacity?

Think of a half-filled stadium where the excitement and enthusiasm is muted by vacant space. That’s the worry to View Royal and the six other municipalities who share casino revenues; that, in its zeal to pound stakes into more communities, B.C. Lotteries will impoverish a busy and healthy enterprise.

Great Canadian, owner of the View Royal Casino, has requested a grace period in order to reshape its operations here into a full entertainment experience, a $22-million project that will expand a regional attraction.

Surely, building on its success makes more sense than diluting the marketplace and emptying a full stadium.

Graham Hill served four terms as mayor of View Royal.

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