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Port Coquitlam wants piece of casino cash

If Port Coquitlam residents are gambling in neighbouring communities, then the city should get a piece of the casino funds collected by local government.  - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
If Port Coquitlam residents are gambling in neighbouring communities, then the city should get a piece of the casino funds collected by local government.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

If Port Coquitlam residents are gambling in neighbouring communities, then the city should get a piece of the casino funds collected by local government.

That was the message during Monday’s council meeting, when councillors voted unanimously in favour of a Union of B.C. Municipalities resolution lobbying the province to pool gaming revenues to distribute among all communities.

Currently, only the host municipality gets a piece of the gambling revenue, a formula Coun. Glenn Pollock said needs to be changed.

“This is long overdue,” he said during the meeting. “I think this is a great resolution.”

According to a city staff report, the market for gaming facilities is saturated, making the associated revenues difficult to access for municipalities. It also stated that communities without gaming facilities are still subject to the social impacts associated with casinos in neighbouring cities.

PoCo’s resolution received a cool reception from Mayor Richard Stewart of Coquitlam, home to the Boulevard Casino. Last year his city collected $5.3 million in revenue from gaming money, funds Stewart said Coquitlam intends to keep.

He added that the city signed an agreement with the province in the 1990s and that any changes to the funding arrangement would be opposed by council.

“If we are going to be treated the same as everyone else, then the casino is gone,” he said. “We can’t retroactively move the casino. They can’t retroactively change the agreement.”

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