Whistler pubs and bars will not have Club Keno machines because the municipality passed a bylaw prohibiting any for-profit gambling beyond the existing lottery tickets and pulltabs, according to Mayor Ted Nebbeling.
That was news to the Attorney General’s office this week, as a representative said they didn’t know anything of Whistler’s bylaw.
The bylaw, given third reading by council in December, 1994, was intended specifically to head off the introduction of video lottery terminals, but covers all forms of electronic gambling or gaming. At that time, about 50 municipalities across the province either passed similar bylaws or indicated they didn’t want video lottery terminals.
The issue resurfaced last week when Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh announced that Club Keno machines would be allowed in bars and pubs. The announcement, at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting in Penticton, outraged some civic politicians and surprised even the chair of B.C. Lotteries Corporation, who said the first he heard of it was on the evening news.
The province currently allows Club Keno at 2,150 retail outlets and gets 30 per cent of the money taken in.
Nebbeling told Mountain FM’s Mountain Monitor this week that Dosanjh’s announcement comes so late there is no time to include it as a referendum question on the Nov. 16 ballot.
But at the time Whistler’s bylaw was passed he indicated it was a temporary measure to prevent new for-profit gambling from coming to town until residents have a chance to vote on the matter in a referendum, likely at the time of the next municipal election. Nebbeling also suggested in 1994 that if the province was willing to share gambling revenues with the community Whistler might re-visit the issue.
Under the municipal bylaw, charitable gaming activities will continue to be permitted within Whistler but are restricted to the conference centre and limited to no more than 12 days in a calendar year.