These are historic documents for informational purposes only, and do not necessarily reflect the policies and priorities of the government of the day.





For Immediate Release
Feb. 2, 1999

Ministry of Employment and Investment


VANCOUVER—A white paper on gaming recommends charities have exclusive domain over all bingo activities and, along with host governments, get a share in net casino revenues.

Employment and Investment Minister Mike Farnworth today released the white paper containing 39 recommendations and a draft gaming control act, and invited public comment before mid-March. The white paper’s key recommendations include:
a restructured and renamed B.C. Lottery and Casino Corp. that discontinues all bingo gaming activity, with charities having exclusive domain in this area;
a gaming control act that ensures a stable legal foundation, resolves jurisdictional issues and clarifies regulatory responsibilities;
10 per cent of all casino net income from community casinos go to host governments in addition to the one-sixth already provided to host governments of destination casinos;
applications for new gaming venues require host government approval (existing casino operations will not be subject to this requirement);
minister responsible for gaming to have clear authority over the scope and scale of gaming;
a stronger role for the Gaming Audit and Investigation Office;
on-going funding for problem gambling education, addiction and treatment programs;
dedicated funding for new police and prosecutorial programs to combat illegal gaming; and
higher levels of public accountability from gaming revenue recipients.

Frank Rhodes, a former senior government official, co-ordinated the report. He earlier completed a review of gaming in light of the need to reorder and stabilize the province’s gaming structure and ensure continued charity access to gaming revenue. This followed a series of court decisions on certain aspects of the structure the government had in place to implement gaming policy.

"After widespread consultation with various gaming interests, I commissioned this white paper last June and announced the government’s intention to develop gaming legislation," said Farnworth. "This report fulfills my promise to examine gaming in our province in a focused, structured way so that real progress can be made towards gaming legislation."

Farnworth said there was broad consultation with gaming stakeholders—charities, operators, municipalities and police—in developing the white paper. As part of this process, Rhodes accepted written submissions and presentations from the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ subcommittee on gaming and other groups interested in the development of gaming policy.

Farnworth today also released the Bingo Review, prepared by the Gaming Policy Secretariat independently from the development of the white paper on gaming.

"Because the two reports have common areas and we need consistency in policy development, the bingo review was provided to Mr. Rhodes before the completion of his white paper," said Farnworth.

An advisory group developed the terms of reference for the bingo review. The group consisted of representatives from the B.C. Association for Charitable Gaming, Registered Gaming Management Companies, Coalition of Self Managed Operators and the Campbell River Bingo Association. All bingo sector stakeholders were also invited to make written submissions and presentations.

"The reports I am releasing today build on the interim gaming structure I announced last April. This structure protected and preserved the important role of charities in gaming, guaranteed earnings for charities, increased the overall charity funding available and established a firmer policy and legal base for gaming in light of last year’s court decisions," said Farnworth.

"To complete the review of the province’s gaming structure, a report on British Columbia’s horse-racing sector will soon be finalized. The government’s overall gaming policy will incorporate decisions flowing from this analysis," Farnworth said.

The white paper can be read on the Web site of the Gaming Policy Secretariat of the Ministry of Employment and Investment at on the Internet.

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Ben J. Pires
(250) 952-0611

For more information on the Ministry of Employment and Investment, visit our Web page at on the Internet.



In April 1998, the minister responsible for gaming introduced an interim gaming regime to reorder and stabilize gaming in the province, following several court cases, and he announced that Frank Rhodes would develop a white paper on gaming that would lead to a fair and lasting gaming act.

The minister has received the white paper and a draft gaming control act and is releasing them for public comment before legislation is introduced during the spring sitting of the house.

The white paper puts some focus and structure to the issues surrounding gaming in B.C., and makes recommendations that would:
achieve the key objectives of a legally sustainable structure that is consistent with the Criminal Code of Canada;
allow moderate gaming expansion and revenue generation for both charities and government;
provide a clear division between government gaming and charity gaming;
preserve charity gaming;
address issues of municipal/provincial jurisdiction; and
clarify roles for all agencies involved in gaming. For example, the
B.C. Gaming Commission’s role in charity access and revenue distribution would be strengthened.

While the white paper recommends municipal approval of applications for new gaming venues, it recognizes that existing facilities will, in effect, be economically "stranded" by this recommendation. To enable these facilities to function, it recommends the provincial government have sole jurisdiction over the types of gaming activities in these existing facilities.

The white paper also recommends an opportunity for revenue sharing from gaming with host governments that has not previously been available. Specifically, it recommends that 10 per cent of all community casino net income be paid to host governments—in addition to the one-sixth of net revenues of destination casinos already available to host governments.

The white paper also recommends:
bingo gaming be exclusively reserved for charities, which means that the B.C. Lottery Corp. will no longer be involved in bingo;
revenue for charities be protected by allowing charities to retain all bingo earnings and get a share of net casino revenues. The aggregate share for this year will reach $125 million (not including about $17 million charities earn from raffles) and will eventually move to a formula where one-third of net proceeds goes to charities and two-thirds goes to government;
strengthening the role of the Gaming Audit and Investigation Office and providing funding for new police and prosecutorial programs;
ongoing funding for gambling addiction and treatment programs; and
much higher levels of public accountability from gaming revenue recipients.



Of all provinces, British Columbia records the smallest percentage of government revenues from gaming. Alberta’s percentage is more than triple British Columbia’s percentage (Source: Statistics Canada, 1998).

British Columbia, among all provinces, has the lowest per capita wagering, with Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island recording double British Columbia’s figures (Source: Statistics Canada, 1998).

British Columbia is the last province to expand its gaming activities. This has enabled the provincial government to gauge the impact and public opinion from the various communities across Canada that have implemented gaming expansion.

A policy of moderate expansion of gaming in British Columbia was introduced in March 1997 to:
provide charities with increased gaming revenues and provide for their continued growth;
protect the existing charitable gaming sector, which accounts for more than 2,000 jobs, from foreign competition through enhanced gaming; and
use most of the incremental revenues from enhanced gaming to help protect funding for health and education for the benefit of all British Columbians.

The main impetus for expanding gaming in British Columbia was to help the charitable gaming industry compete with Washington State casinos. About
80 per cent of the customers at Washington State casinos were Canadians, with British Columbians spending an estimated $8.8 million per year in these U.S. casinos.

In an effort to recapture this market to protect charitable revenue and the more than 2,000 jobs associated with gaming in British Columbia, the provincial government increased bet limits, extended hours and permitted additional games at
British Columbia casinos. These changes were successful in keeping British Columbia customers at home. One casino in Washington State has subsequently closed and plans for another casino development were cancelled, as they relied heavily on British Columbia customers.

A survey conducted by Environics in January 1997 indicated that most British Columbians are not opposed to the moderate expansion of gaming within the province, as long as the industry is well-regulated and controlled, and steps are taken to mitigate potential social consequences. Key findings of the survey included:
65 per cent agreed gaming is acceptable as long as government controls and regulates it.
77 per cent believed that increased opportunities for gaming will have no effect on themselves or their families, while an additional eight per cent saw benefits, and 13 per cent saw the potential for increased harm.
86 per cent supported the notion that gaming is an individual’s choice.

The provincial government has also introduced a problem gambling program, with a $2-million annual budget, which includes public awareness, prevention, information, referral and treatment.

The government has committed to establishing dedicated police and prosecution resources to combat illegal gaming.

Casino operators must comply with all operating standards set by the provincial government, including
facility development and maintenance standards,
customer service and employee training standards,
problem gaming policies and programs and
internal control and security standards.

Casino owners, employees and casino gaming suppliers are required to register with the Gaming Audit and Investigation Office and satisfy high standards of honesty, integrity and financial responsibility.

Casinos in British Columbia are small in comparison to casinos in other provinces. At present, they all are smaller than any other Canadian casinos except for the Crystal Casino in Winnipeg (221 slot machines and 28 table games). Most other Canadian casinos are much larger, ranging up to 3,022 slot machines and 118 table games at the Casino de Montreal (see attached table).

Tables and slot machines available at commercial casinos in Canada





Sheraton Casino Halifax




Sheraton Casino Sydney




Casino de Montreal




Casino de Charlevoix

Pte au Pic



Casino de Hull




Casino Windsor




Casino Rama




Casino Niagara

Niagara Falls



Crystal Casino