Westlock County has become one of the latest municipalities in Alberta to publicly support Capital City Casinos in its quest to relocate its Camrose Resort Casino to Edmonton.
The support for Capital City Casinos arrives ahead of a potentially defining date in its history – May 10 – when the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) will hold an appeal of its original decision to reject the move last November.
The AGLC cited several reasons for its decision, including a lack of community support (98% of 500 submissions were against the relocation of casinos), the cannibalization of existing casino operations, and limited new gaming revenues, despite Capital City Casinos pinpointing finances as a crucial factor in its proposal.
But the AGLC’s May 10 appeal will revisit the decision following the persistence of Capital City Casinos, which has been boosted by the support of municipalities in the province of Alberta.
The County of Barrhead signalled its support in February when its councillors instructed the administration to draft a letter asking the AGLC to review its decision, with reeve Douglas Drozd particularly vocal about the situation on Twitter.
Last week, Westlock County added its voice to the crowd, with reeve Christine Wiese attempting to drum up further noise on the matter. According to Town and Country Today, she said: “It’s about finding a line that benefits all. We want a more equitable and fair gaming model.
“This has a huge impact on our community (groups) and their annual revenues. They’ve projected it’ll take four or five years just to get in to work a casino…for our little groups that depend on this, this is critical.
“Hopefully with more of us sending in letters it will have a bigger impact. We need as much support as we can on this.”
If the Camrose facility does move to Edmonton, it will remain in the rural pool for charities – charitable organizations are usually assigned casinos in their region, and rural organizations are relegated to casinos outside the two main cities, meaning they receive less money.
“We have a number of organizations within our county that depend on casinos for their livelihood and to keep the lights on,” said CAO Tony Kulbisky.
“If there is an inequity and a long wait time, I think it’s incumbent on council to put a position forward so our county organizations know that it’s important and we’re at least acknowledging what the concerns are.”