Casino responds to Penticton letter writers

Executive general manager and a long-time Penticton resident sees some misinformation from the writers that he feels should be addressed.

I’m writing to respond to several recent letters published that reference the casino.  As executive general manager of Lake City Casinos and a long-time Penticton resident I see some misinformation from the writers that I feel should be addressed.

1. All B.C. casinos are provincially regulated by BCLC and the odds and payouts are set by them and only them. This does not change because Gateway Casinos is building a new facility.

2. Gateway Casinos operates many successful facilities without hotels attached to them. Most recently our new property in Kamloops that also moved from a hotel to a stand-alone location and is proving very popular. Hotel accommodations is not a requirement to ensure success of our business. Our core clientele is local and therefore do not require accommodations. We are striving to provide a full-service entertainment destination for residents and visitor a-like.

3. The concept of a shuttle service is suggested as a parking mediation solution to allow our staff to park off-site on event nights to ensure all available parking stalls are free for customers and event-goers.  This is not intended or planned as a service for customers and therefore would have no effect on who may or may not use a taxi to get to and from the new casino.

4.  Hordes of intoxicated people will  not be leaving the casino each night. As with any hospitality business that has a license to serve alcohol, we are bound by the regulations of the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. In fact, our policies are more strict than other liquor serving establishments because we have the added regulatory layer of BCLC for appropriate service.  Additionally, all staff must have Serving It Right and Appropriate Response Training to be employed with Gateway Casinos. We are committed to providing a socially responsible entertainment service very seriously and strictly follow all regulatory policies.

5. One of the best ways to stimulate economic activity in the city is to create an economic incentive zone to make it attractive for businesses to invest.  Gateway is investing $25 million into the construction of the new Cascades Casino. This economic incentive zone is not a tax holiday. As stated by the city, in the first year Gateway will pay approximately $100,000 more annually in school, hospital and regional district taxes. After 10 years, the city will receive $150,000 annually in municipal taxes.

6. The number of parking spaces available would not greatly increase as a result of the casino being put in the Penticton Trade and Convention Center location. In the extensive parking study conducted, the spaces at the convention centre were included in the calculation of all available parking and the proposed new footprint is only removing a small amount of spaces. Gateway is contributing to the development of the southwest corner of the South Okanagan Events Center, which will add 143 spaces once paved and properly lined.

Jerry Pokorny

Executive General Manager

Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited