Castlegar takes its Chances with new gaming casino, open today

Castlegar takes its Chances with new gaming casino, open today

 Today’s the big day – after years of anticipation, Chances Gaming Centre will finally be opening its doors in Castlegar.

Grand opening celebrations begin with an invitation-only reception, from noon to 4 p.m., with over 200 guests ranging from the local MP and MLA, as well as mayors-and-councils from all tri-city communities, to contractors and other members of the business community that have been working with Chances to date.
‘There’ll be appetizers, non-alcoholic beverages, tours of the facility,” said Chances general manager Chad Bullock. “At 1 p.m., there will be speeches by Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, as well as Ralph Berezan (president and CEO of casino developers Berezan Management) and Rod Bailey, BCLC (B.C. Lottery Corporation) director of casino and community gaming, operations.
“At 2 p.m., the slot machines will be turned on for a little bit of sneak-peak play,” he said.
At 4 p.m., the doors will open to the public, with gift bags going to the first 500 patrons.
“Anyone who signs up for a gold card, which is a BCLC players reward program, gets 5,000 free points right off the bat, and anyone with a gold card will get to play Ka-Plink for prizes today, and all weekend,” Bullock said.
No card? No problem. He also said patrons can enjoy free bingo on Chances electronic terminals over the next three days, with winners taking home merchandise and prizes.
He said the restaurant is serving a truncated VIP menu, and there will be free appetizers and coffee all day. Live entertainment between 7 and 11 p.m. will feature local talent Janive Fenier, Christina Amelio, Elaine Ryder and Josh Lettington.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to open this building in Castlegar,” Bullock said. “It will be a great benefit to local businesses and the community.”
Located at 100 Hall Road, the 20,000 square foot facility will feature 99 slot machines, one electronic blackjack machine and 150 electronic bingo seats on a 9,400 square foot gaming floor. Amenities include a restaurant, meeting rooms and a licensed lounge.
“I believe this facility will be a positive addition to the City of Castlegar,” said Berezan “On top of job opportunities and attracting visitors, Chances Castlegar is expected to generate $9.6 million in net win after its first operating year – a portion of which will directly benefit the community.”
Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff said he’s over-the-moon to see the centre finally complete.
“It’s absolutely tremendous; a huge asset, not just to Castlegar, but to the entire West Kootenay region,” he said. “Creating 60 news jobs for our community – you have to like that.”
When asked how he responds to local criticism of the venture and its potential negative impacts on a social level (ie problem gambling), he said the vast majority of casino patrons gamble responsibly.
“There’s a down side to every industry,” he said. “But in terms of social issues around the gaming centre, there are safeguards and protections in place, as well as resources like counselling services.
“People are gambling anyway – they’re just not doing it here,” he said. “They’re heading by the busload to places like Bonner’s Ferry and Chewelah, and there’s no return in that to the citizens in Castlegar. None.
“Chances will bring people to the region and encourage locals to spend locally.”


Still cann't help thinking

Still cann't help thinking one persons winning is anouther persons loss. Basically we are being entertained at someone elses expense I find our society bad for that.

Just came back from the

Just came back from the Casino to see what all the excitement was. First thing I notice is a man walking back to his car and he wasn't leaping and jumping for joy. So I am going to assume he lost money he ended up going right passed his car was probably thinking about his loses and not where he was going. Next I notice 2 ATM machines at the door and a man walking out to the casino to the machine do you think he was depositing his winnings or looking for more cash. Looks like a prison to me lots of bars and security.

Gambling Habit

I can't resist adding two-bits to Kira's statement: "Instead of demonizing the gaming centre, why not begin to address the issues that lead to gambling addiction? It doesn't happen in a vaccum, you know." There was a time, less than 50 years ago, when a person who wanted to gamble in British Columbia had two choices, either find an illegal gambling den in the downtown east side of Vancouver, or buy Irish Sweepstakes tickets under the table. Gambling was introduced and promoted, big time, by the province to create a source of revenue for which the government would not have to account. When people pay taxes they want to know where the money is going. When people place bets in a casino, their mind is focused on the chance (slim as it may be) to make a bundle. Beyond that, they don't care. Gambling revenues for government are above all else undemocratic. Why? Because no questions are attached to gambling revenues. In the given example of Castlegar, there is a big difference between the accountability arising from $1 million collected in taxes from the community and the accountability arising from a $1 million cheque handed over by a casino. To the casino owners, it is a fee for the privilege of pulling far more than $1 million out of the community. For the people who are the actual source of all that revenue, casino profits and taxes, the share of their bets that ends up in taxes is the least of their worries if they win, and it is the least of their problems when they lose.

no questions are attached to gambling revenues

If you have any there is a forum on Monday at the Sandman from 8:30 to 12:30. I will be making a 10 minute presentation but they have encouraged me to stay for the whole thing not sure if I want to or not. Limited seating too so you might want to get there early.


The "casino" is waste of time and money, end of story.

I just wish that someone

I just wish that someone would really articulate exactly *why* and *how* this ''gaming centre'' would benefit Castlegar, when its run by an out of area firm and therefore it stands to reason that the majority profits that are made ultimately get funnelled out of the city (like they do with WalMart). I know gambling is so widespread now and you can't avoid it--from poker tourneys to scratch tickets all the way up to win-a-house charity lotteries that the Children's Hospitals etc run. But...even though it is widespread and some see it as harmless fun I think it isn't as family friendly as it's being made out to be. I'm not a fuddy-duddy but yes I do have concerns about gambling and yes my family does not even choose to buy lottery tickets so yes I do have a personal bias in case you're wondering. And yes, there's the whole ''well it's the same argument can be made with alcohol or smoking or whatever, and you can't avoid it''. The point is that I think that the concerns about this facility need to be addressed and they haven't been, in a systematic way other to say ''it'll be good for the Kootenays, it really will''. I think that any profits for the city will make from this venture are minimal compared to the lost wages etc that these gamblers are pumping into these machines, which instead could be directly using to bolster the city's economy in more healthy ways. Let the thumbs down on my comment begin. At the very least, let's have an open, healthy adult discussion on this subject. I think that's what's really been missing.

From the editor: I hate to play the devil's advocate, but ...

For starters, there's the roughly $1-million tax bill the city will be able to levy, hopefully annually, which may ease the tax burden of struggling local residents.

Then there's the tourists who will come here, or stay longer, thus spending money in local hotels, restaurants, shops, etc.... businesses that will, in turn, pay taxes and wages to employees who will, in their turn, spend those wages paying taxes and supporting yet other local businesses.

This, while Chances employs more than 50 people, most of them local, in an economy that's not exactly rich with jobs. Ask those 50 people (and their families) about the benefits of having steady, reliable employment.

It's worth noting, too, that many of the people who spend money at Chances will enjoy themselves  - and govern themselves - without any addicitive behaviours or issues. Many people want the facility because they enjoy gambling in moderation, and will use the centre as a form of entertainment rather than abuse gambling.

While I share the concerns of many of the dissenters, it's really not a black-and-white issue. I think there's real cause for concern, but I can't support the argument that we' ve opened our community to evil incarnate, I just can't.


Kyra Hoggan


An important thing about

An important thing about these magical '50 jobs' that have so enchanted Castlegar's mayor and others: they aren't real. Gambling halls don't create wealth but merely redistribute existing money (pension cheques, mostly) around the community and region. The revenues that will pay for these low-paying, low skill jobs will be taken from other local businesses: family restaurants, movie theatres, and even, sadly, grocery stores.

The only net financial gain that Castlegar will experience will be at the expense of its neighbours like Nelson and Trail--and of its own local businesses.

So what is there to celebrate? Any thinking Castlegarian should be wishing they had a local government that could tell a real economic development from a parasitical one.

I wouldn't call 'Chances' evil incarnate'; there Ms. Hoggan inflates objections to the facility in order to make them look absurd. Instead, I'd simply call this whole sorry development Mediocrity Incarnate.

From the editor: That was a little harsh, no?

I said, repeatedly, that I thought many of the ojections were reasonable and cause for concern. There was no intention of making rational people look absurd.

The "evil incarnate" comment was in direct response to an email I got from a local Chrisitian crusader who called the casino ... wait for it ...."evil incarnate".

Concerns around the social and economic issues are valid .... but I don't think the morality argument holds much water. I find reality TV highly morally objectionable, and my channel will never be turned to it ... but I don't run around trying to get my neighbour's cable disconnected because they enjoy Big Brother or even Maury Povich (blech!).

I don't think all people who gamble are either happless victims or moral degenerates ...I think there are people who actually enjoy it as a pasttime, and in moderation.

That I don't happen to be one of them in no way mitigates my conviction that gambling is their prerogative, just as disagreeing with you is mine.

Fair enough, Kyra, but when

Fair enough, Kyra, but when the words 'evil incarnate' get used, it tends to reframe the debate into something extreme--not that that was your intent. Reasonable people (who don't think it's pure evil) will then tend to say 'oh it's not so bad'. However, I DO think it's 'so bad'--just not in a Satanic way. The worst sorts of nastiness that I see nowadays are small ones: concessions and blindnesses that chip away at community and compassion. On this front, I think you and I have a lot of common ground.

'Just another brick in the wall', to quote Pink Floyd, is how I see this event...small in itself, but part of a tsunami that threatens to destroy our communities. Shame on council, yet again.

Tax won't make up losses

It's ridiculous to say the $1 million in taxes the gambling center will provide is a benefit. That $1 million in taxes will cost people $9 million in losses at the gambling center. It seems counterproductive to have people gamble away many millions of dollars to raise $1million in taxes. If they have that much money to gamble, why not just tax them the $1million directly? And how much will the extra policing costs when property crimes go up? How much to treat the gambling addicts? How much to treat kids addicted to meth that was pushed on them by gambling addicts trying to make a few more bucks to go gamble? Entertainment? I've stayed at a hotel/gambling center in Reno once on my way through Nevada - it was full of people pumping money into video terminals. I can tell you first hand it didn't look like a single person was having "fun". There are hardly any businesses around the gambling center in Castlegar, so it won't really benefit them much (except as you said that there will be 50 more people employed in the region, many part-time at minimum wage). Tourists coming to Castlegar to gamble? One gambling center does not make Castlegar a gambling tourist destination. Although it will suck people and money from the nearby region. And it will be a convenient place for organized crime to launder their money.

isn't it at the airport to

isn't it at the airport to entertain people that are stuck due to delayed or cancelled flights? I love the jump from bored people at the 'Gar airport to meth heads selling to the children of the 'Gar. BTW the #1 money laundering spot in Canada? Nelson,BC! It explains the 80 cafes in a town of 9000. Also all the 'CASH only' places. Small town newspapers really add to the credibility of the show Parks and Rec, when they have the town hall meetings. Awesome.

No, casabonita, this facility

No, casabonita, this facility isn't designed for air travellers. If that was the case, it would close its doors in a month. It's designed for local seniors, who can often ill-afford to gamble.

Not sure about your reference to small town newspapers having town hall meetings, I'm afraid!

I will be watching the next

I will be watching the next tax notice I recieve to see how much of a difference it will actually make. Tourist are comming here all the time to enjoy our beautiful setting why not just promote that and make if family oriented. There are alot of needs for services out there I would like to see some of these people who are unemployed to use there talents to help those in need and start up some businesses. Losing hard earned money must be a better way to enjoy yourself . Have never been in a place myself but have heard the atmosphere there isn't that joyful. I think a group of friends and loved ones getting together and enjoying our great outdoors is an awesome way of enjoying life.

From the editor: That's too simplistic

Need for services?

How do you propose we pay for said services? People who are unemployed can't provide them ... they're struggling too hard themselves. And yes, in this, I speak from experience. They have to figure out how to pay the rent, not how to save the world.

TAXES pay for services, and Chances will pay taxes through the teeth.

Unemployed people start up businesses? With what money? 

I like your assumption that everyone HAS friends and loved ones ... but it's not true, real or fair. There are lots of lonely people in this town with cash to burn ... would you rather they spend that cash here, or at Bonner's Ferry?

Instead of demonizing the gaming centre, why not begin to address the issues that lead to gambling addiction? It doesn't happen in a vaccum, you know.

Target commercialism and loneliness and a society that's lost all spiritualism and respect. Targeting a single company isn't the solution - a wholesale shift in values is.

I don't gamble ... but there's my two cents.


Kyra Hoggan


For services I meant people

For services I meant people who have the means but not the money to work for those that have the money but not the means. The Government does not have to be involved in everything. Those that don't have the money or the means then yes we need a go between. But sometimes I wonder if the church would be a better go between then the Govenrment after all both schools and hospitals were started by churches. That way we could maybe get some spiritualism (I use that word cautiously because there are bad spirts just like good spirits one must descern which is which and bad ones are good at decieving and making themselves look good cause that is what they do) I did actually have some second thoughts because I was all excited about this person who got a job then I realized it was there. So I am struggling with that one. Will just have to pray that God uses this building in anouther way to create Jobs and I believe he will. Maybe a family oriented business. Any Ideas Why do people gamble period. You say cause they are lonely and have cash to burn. One has to wonder when they come out of there at the end of the evening are they really any happier. it is only temporary so they have to go back and maybe that is what makes an addict. Maybe we should put together a community event like a good old fashioned non alcholic family barn dance (maybe at the pioneer areana) or maybe some neighbours get together for a block party. Those who are looking for somewhere to spend their money could help to put it on and get to know there neighbours and not be so lonely. You never know what kind of help your neighbour might need. That has just been brought to my attention. Just met a neighbour never really knew all the years she lived here. Through certain cirucmstances (I say God put it all together) I have now come to realize the help she needed and while she calls me an angle I have learned so much through her I am looking forward to see what else God has planned. So you are right there are alot of people out there with no friends or family. (although this was not quite the same case she did have family but they are not around here and friends but many did not even know that she had some problems.) Gambling to me is Commercialism at it's finest and I believe Greed (Love of money) is a demon. As for the company maybe they are just misguided too. But would be interesting to find out about them. I still have to wonder why the part of the Grand opening ceremonies was by invitation only for the opening. And I do appriciate your 2 cents. It will help make people to think including me.

People are doing it anyway my

People are doing it anyway my favorite excuse. And what is with this Gold Card and last but not least why don't they call it what it is a Gambling Center not a Gaming Center. Oh yeah and I agree with Phil F. But I am not giving up I believe people are going to find alternatives to this for their pleasure. IE helping someone in need and I assure you there are countless people out there in our community. Take time out to visit a lonely elderly babysit for a single mother, volunteer in the numerous agencies that are out there take some time to communicate with God in the quietness of your day and see what he has planned for you you will be amazed you can make a big change in a lost and dying world.

$9.6 million lost/year

"$9.6 million in net win after its first operating year" That's how much people will lose over and above their wins. It's a sad day for the entire region to see this open in the Kootenays.

Currious as to why it was

Currious as to why it was invitation only.

sorry but my spirit is

sorry but my spirit is cringing just reading this.