Despite receiving significant pushback in attempts to move its gaming operations from Camrose to Edmonton, Capital City Casinos is pressing ahead with plans and can now count on support from the County of Barrhead.
Relocation has been mooted since last summer, when Capital City Casinos applied to move their existing Camrose casino to a vacant lot along Parsons Road in Edmonton, citing financial reasons.
This sparked concern from Edmonton residents uneasy at the possibility of increased traffic in the city, as well as the potentially negative impact it could have on local charities.
However, Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) appeared to put an end to this in November by rejecting the relocation application, citing significant opposition from communities.
In fact, after seeking feedback, 98% of 500 submissions were against the relocation of casinos.
But Capital City Casinos has not taken the decision lying down, and subsequently launched an appeal against the AGLC’s ruling.
It has now been reported via Town and Country Today that, on Feb. 7, County of Barrhead councillors instructed the administration to draft a letter asking the AGLC to review its decision and allow the Camrose casino to relocate to Edmonton.
County of Barrhead reeve Douglas Drozd noted the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) also backs Capital City Casinos’ application.
“To me, the move from Camrose to the city makes great sense. Not only will it increase the pot for the Camrose area, but overall for Alberta,” he said.
“Initially, I think it even made sense to AGLC, and they had it approved, but then political forces got involved, and they backed down.”
Drozd was even more forthright when sharing his views on Twitter, writing last Wednesday: “The AGLC would have us believe that it is ok to treat Albertans in the St.Albert and Camrose casino regions like second class citizens.”
Meanwhile, in a letter from the RMA to rural municipalities asking them to lobby the AGLC, policy and advocacy manager Wyatt Skovron stated that the casinos in St. Albert and Camrose “currently produce the lowest per-event revenues and have among the highest wait times (for NPO casino dates) in the province, while Edmonton’s five casinos produce the highest average per-event revenues in the province and have the shortest wait times”.
He added that, while allowing the Camrose casino to relocate to Edmonton would not solve the inequality of the charity gaming system, it would signal that the province recognizes that the current system is systematically unfair to rural NPOs.
“If we can help AGLC change their mind and go back to their original rationale, it would be a good thing to do,” Drozd said.