Chances gaming centre wants to increase slots in Abbotsford

Proposal calls for an increase to 300 machines from the current 125.

Playtime Gaming would like to increase the number of slot machines at Chances to about 300.

Playtime Gaming would like to increase the number of slot machines at Chances to about 300.

Slot machines will again be a topic of debate at city hall.

According to Art Villa, coordinator of business development for Playtime Gaming, council will discuss a bylaw proposal allowing Abbotsford’s Chances Community Gaming Centre to increase the number of slot machines from 125 to about 300 at its Peardonville Road location.

While the agenda has yet to be released by the city, Villa is confident the slot issue will be included. Councillors could also discuss Chances’ application to acquire a liquor primary licence.

“We’re the only gaming facility in the province without one,” said Villa.

Last year, Villa made a presentation asking for the increase and liquor licence. Council has yet to act on it.

Chances’ maximum of 125 slot machines was set in 2009 when the former Abbotsford Bingo Hall underwent a $6-million renovation to become the gaming centre.

Even if city allows more machines, the final decision comes from the BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC).

If approved, an increase in slots would come in increments of 25 or 50 machines.

In 2010, a survey performed for Playtime found that 48 per cent of Chances’ customers are coming from outside of Abbotsford.

“So money is coming here, and that’s a great thing,” said Jacee Schaefer, one of the partners of Chances Abbotsford.

The survey also found that many customers are going to other gaming sites because of the lack of availability. Villa said on some weekends, 121 of the the 125 machines will be in use, meaning people are waiting to play. It’s estimated the centre is losing 2,000 potential customers a month.

There is plenty of competition to deal with, including a plan to create a new gaming centre in Chilliwack.

Ten per cent of the net gaming proceeds from Chances goes to the City of Abbotsford. Villa said this year, that figure will be about $900,000 and with more machines, would pass the $1 million mark.

Another portion of the gaming revenue goes to Playtime’s partner, the Abbotsford Bingo Association. That money is distributed by the association to local charitable groups.