Yesterday, Public Eye reported the total number of slot machines in British Columbia will increase by 374 percent since the provincial Liberals won the last election if all the approvals go through. Given the party's promise to "stop the expansion" of gambling, this might come as something of a surprise to most British Columbians. But one person who wouldn't be surprised by those numbers is Jacee Schaefer, the former vice-president of intergovernmental and media relations for Great Canadian Gaming Corp. and a crack Liberal operative. In an 1997 interview, the former Socred told Vancouver Sun staffer John MacKie that she pinned the Liberals down on their gaming policy before becoming a party member.
According to Ms. Schaefer, the Liberals told her "they would be in support of expanding charity gaming to keep those dollars home from Washington state, about $70 million of them. And, in order to that, we needed some things. We needed a higher bet limit, we needed extended hours, and we needed more games and more tables."
"They were in support of that. They said if there was going to be tourism destination gaming, they would ask for a local referendum or municipal approval. That is what the NDP has done. They basically said the same thing that the Liberals told me they were going to do. But now it seems to be turning into a political football."
At the time, then Opposition leader Gordon Campbell denied Ms. Schaefer's claims saying, "My point on gaming has always been that we shouldn't be expanding it. We certainly shouldn't expand it without a far more detailed public discussion than we've had."