Opinion » Editorial


Government Services Minister Ujjal Dosanjh's announcement Wednesday that B.C. would remain one of only two provinces in the country without video lottery terminals shows the government is willing to listen to the people. But it's still in trouble. The more than 40 cities and municipalities that voted to prohibit VLTs — Whistler was among the first — had good reason to oppose the introduction of the machines. Examples of the social costs of VLTs abound, and as several mayors pointed out, by introducing the terminals the province would reap the cash rewards while the municipalities would bear the costs. The province's rationale for introducing the terminals was also flawed. The 5,000-10,000 illegal machines reported to be in the province never materialized. In fact, police officials expressed bewilderment at where the number came from. But the government is still left with a problem. The decision not to introduce VLTs is part of a Made in B.C. gaming policy, which Mr. Dosanjh is supposed to introduce in about a month. Gambling is seen by the B.C. government — indeed, most governments across the continent — as a lucrative source of revenue. The NDP recently realized it is short $250 million, due to the collapse of the Columbia River deal with Bonneville Power. Now it's ruling out any revenue from VLTs. Will there be something to make up for these shortfalls in the new gaming policy? And what will the gaming policy say about native plans for gambling? VLTs won't be allowed and "Las Vegas-style" casinos are also not part of the deal. With the odds of generating revenue from gambling getting longer, the government may have more explaining to do when it rolls the dice on a gambling policy we are all going to have to live with. Place your bets.