Bid to buy bingo association prompts questions

There are more than a few questions stemming from Monday’s announcement regarding the intention by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation to buy the Chilliwack Bingo Association.

There are more than a few questions stemming from Monday’s announcement regarding the intention by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation to buy the Chilliwack Bingo Association. (See story here.)

The most obvious is whether or not Chilliwack city council would have approved the CBA’s intent to become a “Community Gaming Centre” back in 2009 if the ultimate owner was going to be Great Canadian.

Council approval was granted, but only by a 4-3 vote. And that narrow support was a partial reflection of the unique nature of the Chilliwack Bingo Association.

Instead of a single company, the CBA is made up of more than 50 local non-profit organizations.

The groups were vocal supporters of the community gaming centre application because they feared the money they gained through the bingo operation (and shared with the community through their organizations) would disappear. They cited the general decline in bingo revenue and competition from larger casinos should they not be permitted to upgrade their bingo hall to a gaming centre that included slot machines.

Gambling revenue is divided through a formula that sends part of the proceeds to the province, which keeps some and distributes others to approved community groups across B.C. Another part of the money goes to the bingo hall owners – in Chilliwack’s case the consortium of charities that make up the Chilliwack Bingo Association.

How a sale to Great Canadian will affect that formula is just one of the issues that will have to be made more clear in the weeks ahead.

The deal has yet to be approved by either group. Because of confidentiality agreements, questions remain unanswered.

It is good news that after nearly two years there is movement on an issue that drew past community support.

The question is whether or not Chilliwack will ultimately get what it supported two years ago.