B.C. Liberals take money from cities to pay for BCLC mistake

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February 4, 2015

VANCOUVER – B.C. cities that host casinos are losing revenue because of the B.C. Liberals’ botched restructuring of the B.C. Lottery Corporation, say the New Democrats.

“First, the B.C. Liberals managed to spend $28.5 million on a restructuring project that was meant to save money, and now they’re passing these costs directly on to cities that had nothing to do with this screw up,” said New Democrat gaming critic David Eby. “As if people didn’t pay enough municipal property tax, now they’re being asked to subsidize this government’s mistakes.”

A complex provincial accounting trick has reduced casino profit usually paid out to cities. Of the $28.5 million lost in the restructuring – including $25 million spent on a disastrous early retirement and severance packages recently profiled in an internal government audit of BCLC – the B.C. Liberals dispersed $22.6 million in costs to casinos and gaming centres across the province, where the money was absorbed under their administrative and operating costs. These costs were then subtracted from gaming revenue to determine the 10-per-cent portion of revenue each host municipality received.

“While the rot is with the Liberal government, they are trying to pretend the stench is coming from city halls across the province,” said Eby. “It’s dishonest, and it hurts cities that are already struggling to balance budgets.”

Cities across the province lost money they were entitled to receive from casinos in their communities. The seven cities that lost the most revenue lost at least the following amounts:

  • Richmond: $470,000
  • Burnaby: $250,000
  • Vancouver: $190,000
  • Coquitlam: $170,000
  • New Westminster: $150,000
  • Langley: $140,000
  • Surrey: $70,000

“Cities aren’t a bank account for the Liberals to pull from when they’re in trouble,” said Eby. “For cities to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, they’ll have to make that money up somewhere, and it will come from community centres, recreation programs and other essential municipal services.”