Opinion

Gambling is a big business in Langley City

Langley City has received more than $53 million as its 10 per cent cut of the profits of the Cascades Casino, since the facility began operation in 2005.

While that figure isn’t surprising, as the casino has been giving the City $6 to $8 million in most years, the cumulative amount is a bit staggering. It’s also worth pointing out that this figure is just 10 per cent of the net profits of the casino (not including the hotel and conference centre), so the casino has made no less than $530 million in nine years of operation.

That’s just a portion of the huge amount of money that people of this area — and that’s where most of the patrons come from — have spent on gambling. While many of them have enjoyed some winnings, in  gambling the house always wins, and in B.C., the province and the city in which a casino is located win big-time as well.

Given that the casino has made $530 million in profits since 2005, I wonder how much has been spent on lottery tickets in Langley since that time? It’s likely a comparable figure.

I’m not opposed to gambling. People have been gambling for thousands of years, and prior to B.C. going into gambling in a big way, a great deal of money from here went to U.S. casinos, particularly in Nevada.

It makes sense to recapture at least some of that money and redirect it towards provincial priorities like health and education. In the case of Langley City, much of the money has been used to pay down debt and pursue new capital projects, and there’s no doubt that some projects like the 204 Street overpass and the Fraser Highway bridge over the Nicomekl River were built more quickly because of the casino revenue.

Cascades Casino and Convention Centre has been a good economic generator for the City as well.  Apart from the gambling activity, the convention centre attracts a great deal of corporate business. There are events going on there virtually every day, and Langley’s central location in the Lower Mainland make it very attractive for many businesses and organizations. That has created jobs and economic activity here.

Having a hotel as part of the package has also helped to attract business. Accommodation in the downtown area, where there aren’t many other hotels and motels, is a benefit.

However, one wonders how long gambling will continue to be the big business that it is today. Will it keep generating massive tax revenues?

The City had doubts right from the beginning, citing that as a reason not to put the casino revenue in its general budget and use it to lower tax rates.

The revenue the City gets from gambling has been sliding slightly in recent years. There is no shortage of casinos in the Lower Mainland — to say nothing of another four or five within an hour’s drive across the U.S. border.

Some people gamble out of desperation, and need to be kept out of casinos. Most gamble for recreation. However, many residents find their budgets have been getting more and more stretched as each year goes by, and that could mean less gambling.

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