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Charities ratify bingo deal

Chilliwack Bingo Association charities voted in favour of the deal presented to them by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation over the weekend.

The resolution by the 49 members ratified the sale of the existing bingo operation, as well as the five-acre site on Olds Drive to Great Canadian Gaming, confirmed Fran Heagy, manager of Chilliwack Bingo.

“The CBA will receive a substantial immediate consideration in addition to contingent trailing payments over the next 20 years,” Heagy said.

Millions of dollars from local bingo profits have funded non-profit groups over the past 25 years.

“This sale will ensure the sustainability of this funding well into the future,” said Heagy.

The vote by CBA members took place Saturday in Chilliwack.

“We made a presentation to the charities that run Chilliwack Bingo,” confirmed Great Canadian vice-president Howard Blank. “We thought it went very well. There was solid information and we had some good dialogue. That’s all I can say at this point.”

More details may be made public about the acquisition on Thursday, when Great Canadian’s quarter results are set to be announced, said Blank.

Asked if Great Canadian had any other experience with a charity-owned gaming organization like Chilliwack Bingo, Blank replied that the Maple Ridge facility that is under development had a similar history.

Chilliwack Bingo logged the highest bingo revenues in the province, with an $11.1 million total in 2009-10, while Vancouver’s Planet Bingo came in second.

City council approved the expansion of Chilliwack Bingo in 2009 into a community gaming centre with slot machines.

Since then Chilliwack Bingo has “explored several options” such as going ahead with building the gaming centre and increasing the financial security of membership.

“The CBA believes this sale and Great Canadian’s subsequent development of the community gaming centre will ensure that financial security without the assumption of any fiscal or operational risk on the CBA’s behalf,” said Heagy in a news release.

Great Canadian owns 10 casinos, four racetracks and two community gaming centres in B.C., Ontario, Nova Scotia and Washington state.

The proposal is still subject to board approval by Great Canadian, and other conditions of closing the sale.

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