Casino group willing to put money on Chilliwack Bingo Association

The proposed sale of the Chilliwack Bingo Association to the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation has not been approved by either board of the two organizations, Roy Fraser, chairman of the Chilliwack association, said Monday.

The proposed sale of the Chilliwack Bingo Association to the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation has not been approved by either board of the two organizations, Roy Fraser, chairman of the Chilliwack association, said Monday.

“It’s a proposal,” he said, adding that he could not comment further because of a confidentiality agreement.

But Fraser did say a reported $1.5 million sale price is “ridiculous.”

Why the five-acre property the CBA bought on Young Road to build a new community gaming centre was up for sale in the first place remains an unanswered question for now.

City council approved building the proposed Chances community gaming centre by a narrow 4-3 vote in September, 2009.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz and Coun. Chuck Stam were unavailable for comment Monday.

But former city councillor Diane Janzen, now running for federal election in Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, said she would be “very interested in seeing how exactly” the 55 non-profit organizations that locally managed the Chilliwack bingo hall would be impacted by the proposed sale to the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation.

“I strongly supported those organizations, and I want to see them continue to receive funding,” she said, but voted against the gaming centre in 2009.

“My position was, and continues to be, I was opposed to the expansion of gambling,” she said, because of her concern about the “addiction aspects” of gambling.

“The last thing on Earth our community needed was more of it,” she said.

Janzen also said Chilliwack residents were “misinformed” about the benefits of the gaming centre, saying the funds raised locally do not stay in the community, but are sent to Victoria where they are allocated according to applications made by the various community groups.

“The money for local charities does not come locally, it comes from Victoria,” she said.

Monday’s joint news release issued by the CBA and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation said the purchase agreement will include the CBA’s existing bingo operation and the five-acre site in Chilliwack.

Ross McLeod, Great Canadian’s CEO, said the purchase will give the corporation “an opportunity to service a growing and under-serviced market” with a “high-quality gaming facility for this municipality.”

Fraser said in the news release that the agreement ensures that Chilliwack charities will continue to receive the “millions of dollars” raised in the past, but will also “create a significant opportunity for an even greater level of contribution to our community.”

Great Canadian operates 10 casinos in Canada, including the River Rock casino/resort in Richmond, two community gaming centres, including one in Maple Ridge, and four racetracks.

More information about the Chilliwack gaming centre will be announced on May 12, according to the release.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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