Now that the city of Surrey has rejected a proposed casino hotel and entertainment complex, the Township of Langley is hinting it might be interested.
The possibility was raised during the Jan. 21 council meeting by Councillor Kim Richter,
“Is there an opportunity for other municipalities to go after that casino?” Richter asked.
Township Administrator Mark Bakken thought there was.
“There may be an opportunity,” Bakken said, but he added council would probably have to formally express interest.
That didn’t happen Monday night. No motion was made, no vote was taken.
The next day, Township mayor Jack Froese said a logical site for such a project would be the former Gibbs Nurseryland property next to the Langley Events Centre, the 209,000-sq.-ft. arena on 200 Street.
The Township bought the three acres on the southeast corner of 200 Street and 80 Avenue for $5,750,000 two years ago.
The property abuts the northwest corner of the Township’s Events Centre property which covers about 25 acres.
Froese said the Gibbs site would be a good fit for the mix of entertainment and casino games proposed for Surrey, but there are some hurdles that would have to be overcome, one being an existing community gaming centre within the Township.
The 16,000 sq. ft. Playtime gaming facility at 196 Street and 64 Avenue is mostly devoted to bingo, but includes 50 slot machines on its second floor.
The BC Lottery Corporation, the agency that regulates casinos, may be reluctant to approve a casino in the same area, Froese said.
“They (BCLC) don’t like to put casinos and gaming centres too close together”, Froese said.
“Its going to be a little difficult.”
B.C. Lottery Corp. president and CEO Michael Graydon has said the agency will be looking at South of Fraser communities from Delta to Langley for casino sites following the Surrey Council rejection of a 60,000-sq.-ft. gaming area, 200-room hotel and a 27,000-sq.-ft. convention and entertainment centre on an 18-acre parcel of land at 10 Avenue and 168 Street.
Municipalities with casinos receive 10 percent of the profits to put back into their community.
According to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, $82.3 million was given to local governments which host casinos and community gaming centres in the 2010/2011 fiscal year.
Langley City collected $6.2 million during the 2010/2011 fiscal year from the Cascades Casino operated by Gateway, the company that wanted to build the Surrey facility.
Township councillor Steve Ferguson has argued the provincial government should change the regulations so the wealth from the Cascades is shared between both Langleys, but to little avail.
Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender said it’s too early to tell whether his community and council might support a gambling expansion at Gateway’s Cascades casino.
He indicated the city would likely require a bigger hotel and convention centre along with a more accessible theatre, saying the hotel isn’t big enough to attract larger conventions and the theatre can’t be used by those under 19 because the only access is through the casino.
“We’re not simply looking for an expansion of our casino,” Fassbender said.
“The hotel expanding, the convention centre expanding, the theatre expanding and being accessible to more of the community – those might all be pieces of the puzzle.”
– with files from Jeff Nagel