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Under the B, bye bye bingo?

The City of Kelowna is being asked to amend the way Chances Gaming Entertainment operates.

As part of a bylaw established by City Council in 2008, Chances in Kelowna is restricted to 49 per cent floor space for non-bingo related gaming options such as slot machines.

Chances and the BC Lottery Corporation have put together a joint submission asking that council remove the restriction and allow non-bingo activities over 100 per cent of the facility.

In a letter asking for the change, Chances owner Stanley Walt, says that while bingo remains viable at the facility, it is declining here, across BC and across North America.

The number of bingo seats in Kelowna has dwindled from 850 in 2007 to 440 today.

"Chances Kelowna has been one of the success stories of bingo and is one of the three most successful bingo operations in the province," Walt says in his letter to the city.

"The once very successful bingo operations in the province are now very marginal. Despite doing better than the rest of the province it has only meant that we are declining at a slower pace."

Walt adds bingo remains a viable offering at Chances and there is "no intent to stop running bingo."

However, he says the need to manage the decline in bingo is important in managing the success of the overall business.

"I would like to be proactive and keep Chances a vibrant and growing gaming facility in Kelowna and I want to equip Chances with the ability to deploy the BCLC gaming products that have been approved by council," says Walt.

"This would include our current offering of slot machines, electronic table games, bingo, horse racing and lottery games such as 649."

He also hinted at the possibility of adding live, manned table games such as blackjack, roulette and poker. Such a 'substantial change' would require another approval from council.

According to figures released by BCLC, bingo revenues in the province have dropped from $109M in the fiscal year 2010-2011 to $86M last year.

At Chances, bingo revenues totaled $7.1M in 2013 while slot machine revenues came in at $29.4M.

Over the last three fiscal years payments from Chances to Kelowna as Host Local Government has totalled $4.77M.

Chances is also asking to extend hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Currently, they are open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.

City staff has recommended the changes be approved by council Monday.



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