The number of slot machines in British Columbia will increase by 4,599 over and above the 3,832 listed in the British Columbia Lottery Corp. last annual report, according to an analysis by Public Eye using stats confirm by that agency. And another 550 have been proposed or are pending government approvals, boosting the total to 8,981. That total is almost 1,000 higher than previously reported rough estimates. If the approvals go through, it means the number of slot machines in British Columbia will have grown by 374 percent since the Liberals took office. Great Canadian Gaming Corp. has been the biggest beneficiary of this expansion, with its slots increasing from measley 300 to 2,200 or by a whopping 733 percent. That company has strong connections to the Liberals.
Patrick Kinsella, the party's most influential backroom boy and the co-chair for their 2005 re-election campaign, previously worked as a consultant for Great Canadian. In an interview last month, Mr. Kinsella, who invested in the company in 1997, said Great Canadian's chairman and chief executive officer Ross McLeod "is a good friend of mine." And Jacee Schaefer, the company's former vice-president of intergovernmental affairs and media relations, is considered one of the Liberal's most experienced and competent election day managers. In 2003, Great Canadian disclosed Ms. Schaefer as being one of its finders. She also invested in the company in 1997.
Between 2001 and 2003, Great Canadian's revenues went from $67.6 million to $113.8 million - a 59 percent increase. Mr. McLeod received a salary last year of $294,500, and was paid a $100,000 bonus, along with other compensation totalling $199,000. He also exercised stock options worth $2.9 million, pushing his earnings to more $3.5 million and making him the ninth highest paid chief executive officer in British Columbia. In 2002, Mr. McLeod made only $703,600. The company's moto is "We're not leaving anything to chance."
During the last election, the Liberal New Era document promised a Gordon Campbell government would "stop the expansion of gambling that has increased gambling addiction and put new strains on families." The following is a copy of our analysis listing the number of additional slot machines installed since March 31, approved, pending approval or proposed. This does not represent the total number of slot machines at each facility.
Approved or installed
Astel Canada Ltd. North Star Bingo Hall Fort Nelson 25
Goldwing Investments Ltd. Bingo Kelowna 50
Gateway Casinos Ltd. Partnership Burnaby 400
Gateway Casinos Ltd. Partnership Cascade Casino (Langley) 331
Gateway Casinos Ltd. Partnership Queensborough (New Westminster) 248*
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. Bear Mountain Community Gaming Centre (Dawson Creek) 50
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. Coquitlam 550**
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. Hastings Racecourse (Vancouver) 600
Great Canadian Gaming Corp. River Rock Resort (Richmond) 1,000
Grand Casino Equipment & Management Ltd./Royal Diamond Casinos Inc. Edgewater (Vancouver) 600
Lucky's Ventures Ltd. Signal Point Gaming Centre (Williams Lake) 97
Orangeville Raceway Ltd. Fraser Downs Gaming Centre (Surrey) 388
Playtime Community Gaming Centres Inc. Campbell River Bingo Palace 100
Playtime Community Gaming Centres Inc. Valley Bingo Palace (Courtney) 50
Treasure Cove Casino (Prince George) 110
* The City of Richmond has objected to the slot machines, which have already been approved by the City of New Westminster.
** Although the City of Coquitlam has approved 550 additional slot machines, the renovated casino will be opening with 200 less or 800.
Pending approvals or proposed
Enterprise Entertainment Ltd. Kamloops 50
Gateway Casinos Ltd. Partnership Burnaby 300
Orangeville Raceways Ltd. Sandown Raceway (Sidney) 200