Acquiring Playtime Entertainment capped off a year of changes for Gateway Casino’s operations in Penticton.
On Dec. 23, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment announced they had acquired Playtime, which operates the bingo hall on Eckhardt Avenue in Penticton, not far from where Gateway is hoping to build their new Cascade Casino complex.
Tanya Gabara, Gateway’s media representative, said it is too early to say whether the bingo hall might be incorporated into the $25-million gaming and entertainment complex they are designing to be situated next to the Penticton and Wine Country Visitor Information Centre.
“At this time, we really don’t know. Obviously we are still working through the design of the relocated property,” said Gabara, stressing that their priority is the transition of Playtime employees and operations into Gateway.
“This is a big opportunity for Gateway,” said Gabara. “Realistically, we have enough time to really think about it.”
Gabara said there are no plans to cut back Playtime operations or staffing, including the approximately 20 staff in Penticton
“If anything, this allows their 300 employees to grow. Gateway has a lot of opportunities for them and we are really excited to bring them into the Gateway family and grow our business.”
Gateway’s announcement of a proposed new location for the Penticton operation came in late November, about a month after their current landlord, the Lakeside Resort, announced that the lease agreement with Gateway would not be renewed after the current term ended in spring 2017.
The new location will feature an enhanced entertainment experience with over 45,000 square feet of space featuring live music, gaming and multiple dining options.
The public consultation process regarding the new location is just wrapping up, with a final meeting planned for Jan. 4 at 6 p.m. in Penticton city council chambers. Council will hear the feedback collected at past open houses and there will be a final chance for public input, before council decides whether to endorse the change in location for the casino to the B.C. Gaming Commission.
Penticton’s economic development officer Colleen Pennington said the feedback collected so far ranges over several issues, but the biggest concerns are over parking and traffic problems that might be caused by the addition of the new gaming complex to the the southeast corner of the South Okanagan Events Centre site.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said a key factor has been encouraging Gateway to stay within the borders of Penticton. As a host city, Penticton receives about $1.6 million in gaming funds, and Jakubeit said that amount may grow with the larger facilities, along with the taxes and other revenue collected by the city.
“It is a significant financial impact for the city and I think the community recognizes that,” said Jakubeit.