Council pulls plug on video lottery terminals
Referendum on the way
Whistler council is moving to head off video lottery terminals before they reach town.
The B.C. Lottery Corporation is ready to ship the terminals to bars and lounges around the province but municipal staff are trying to beat the delivery with a zoning bylaw which would prohibit any new private, for-profit gambling on Whistler property.
Council instructed staff to prepare the bylaw amendment Monday and will schedule a special council meeting as soon as possible to give it first two readings.
The bylaw would not affect the sale of lottery tickets or pull tab games in existing or future Whistler businesses.
Council has proposed a local referendum be held at the time of the next provincial election to determine Whistler residents' feelings toward video lottery terminals and for-profit gambling. Mayor Ted Nebbeling said if the referendum shows people want gambling in Whistler then the bylaw would be rescinded and discussions could begin on what forms of gambling would be allowed in the resort.
Nebbeling said his main concern with video lottery terminals is that they may be just the thin edge of the gambling wedge.
"I think before the terminals arrive we should ask the people," Nebbeling said. "The only feedback council has had so far is opposed to gambling."
Daryl Hnatiuk, general manager of Jimmy D's, said the bylaw may be a bit premature as the provincial government has yet to release details about the design, implementation and distribution of the terminals.
"I think until there is further investigation, or until the machines are distributed, council may be jumping the gun," said Hnatiuk, who added he was planning on ordering five or six terminals to "complement the atmosphere" of the bar.
The B.C. Lottery Corporation was unaware of Whistler's bylaw proposal.
Nebbeling added the municipality has received a business application for a casino. Under current provincial law private for-profit casinos are illegal.