Table games will soon be added to the variety of gambling options at Chances Kelowna, much to the chagrin of fellow gambling establishment Playtime Casino.
At a Kelowna city council meeting on Tuesday, the two institutions went back and forth over the impact the new offering would have on both businesses.
“For some time now, existing customers at Chances have been telling BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corporation) and Chances management that they’d like to see live table games on the site,” said Brad Desmarais, vice-president of casino community gaming for BCLC, which made the application on behalf of Chances.
While acknowledging Playtime Casino’s presence in the city and hold on the table games market, Desmarais stated the planned addition of four or five table games and a roulette table is not about stealing or moving market share but rather meeting the needs of Chances’ players — who are often of a different demographic to that of Playtime.
“We encourage facilities to operate in a complementary manner, not a competitive manner,” he said.
Playtime sees it in a different light.
“It is our opinion that the table games market is well served by the current complement of tables available in the Okanagan,” said Clarissa Pruden, general manager of Playtime Casino.
“In Kelowna, the gaming market is fairly split as BCLC alluded to, with the main differentiator being that bingo is the Chances game and table games being ours.”
Playtime representatives also noted that if the application was approved, Kelowna would have the two closest proximity full-service casinos in the province at less than five kilometres.
Several people in the gallery came to speak in favour of Chances, citing the entirely different experience between the two casinos and different demographics served.
Council saw it much the same way, voting unanimously to approve the application.
“Competition, being what it is, we’d all like to not have it,” said Coun. Charlie Hodge.
“Our society is based on competition.
“(The facilities) are different to one another — and they cater to a different clientele.
“To some degree that may shift a bit (with this application), now that some people may find it of interest to go up to Chances.”
Mayor Colin Basran said Playtime’s perceived negative impact is “not real.”
“I believe that both will be very successfu,” said Basran.
“ I am actually really happy that Kelowna will be the first to have two so close together because I think it will enhance the user experience for either facility.”
According to Desmarais, Chances plans to hire approximately 50 new staff members to support the tables, in addition to the 168 already working there.
“If there will be 50 jobs, maybe one or two people in the crowd might get one,” added Hodge.