A recent hearing decision of the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission has confirmed that the casino closures from 2020 and 2021 have taken a massive toll on local charities. Provincial casinos suspended operations for five months in 2020 and five more in 2021 after provincial orders as a way of preventing the spread of the unprecedented situation.
However, it should be noted that Grand Villa Casino remained closed for an even extended period. For instance, at the end of 2019, the property reduced its working days, and it was completely shut down between March 17, 2020, and July 18, 2022. This further affected local charities which usually rely heavily on funding from the gaming amenity.
Losing Millions Due to Closures
According to the Crown agency, the October 14 hearing decision has revealed that the casino’s closures added six weeks to fundraising event wait times for local charities. It also cost AGLC and its general revenue fund between approximately CA$3.8 million and CA$4.5 million. Due to that, the Crown introduced a new licensed condition, which requires businesses to run slot and table games seven days a week.
It should be mentioned that in AGLC’s hearing decision, a panel of board members sided with the company, allowing for the licence to be agreed upon. Laura Cunningham-Shpeley, executive director of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues, claimed that the decision is concerning because community groups and charities rely on stable casino revenue.
In February the Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited casino was closed, the Crown took out 57 slot machines from it and later imposed a new licence which required the property to run slot and table games seven days a week. Subsequently, the operator applied for a hearing, and the panel decided that the new licence condition should be removed.
Dave Berry, AGLC’s executive VP of public engagement and chief regulatory officer, stated that Grand Villa Casino and other gaming amenities in the province have a responsibility to operate as much as possible to generate as many proceeds as possible for charities. He said that the licence was introduced as a way of making sure that the casino operated in line with others.
In response, the operator’s regional manager, Stephen Rowbotham, said that the casino reduced work in 2019 on slow days and capitalized on heavy traffic during Rogers Place event days. He also explained that construction in Ice District has caused traffic disturbance and access problems. In addition to that, the company also had labour quarrels in 2021 and 2022.
Meanwhile, another casino issue emerged in Edmonton, as Capital City Casinos wants to relocate its Camrose casino to South Edmonton. However, some locals are not happy with a potential gaming amenity on Parsons Road. Councillor Keren Tang shared that she has already received numerous complaints from unhappy locals.
Source: Cummings, Madeleine “Extended downtown casino closures cost province, Edmonton charities millions” CBC News, November 9, 2022