Chances gaming centre application spurned by Courtenay council

Courtenay council rejected Chances Courtenay
Courtenay council rejected Chances Courtenay's wish to increase the licensed drinking capacity inside its gaming centre.
— image credit: Erin Haluschak

Courtenay council has put the cap on Chances Courtenay's wish to increase the licensed capacity inside its gaming centre.
Chances Courtenay applied for a permanent change to its liquor licence to increase the capacity from 199 to the building occupant load of 419, but councillors voted it down Monday.
Couns. Ronna-Rae Leonard, Murray Presley, Manno Theos and Larry Jangula voted against the change. Ambler and Mayor Greg Phelps were in favour.
Increasing the licensed capacity to the occupant load of 419 would allow people who have been served to move from one machine to another without fear of leaving the licensed area, explained Art Villa, co-ordinator of business development for Playtime Community Gaming Centres Inc.
The actual service areas would only include the immediate bar area, the VIP Lounge and the seating areas in the Bistro, the Pacific Patio and the Garden Gazebo Lounge.
"All Community Gaming Centres are adult-specific facilities," explained Villa. "Customers feel they should be able to enjoy an adult beverage if they so choose."
Presley was strongly opposed to the change.
He felt more alcohol could affect people's decisions and cause them to gamble more.
"It's still a tax on the poor," he said. "Candy's dandy but liquor's quicker certainly applies here. ... Having it so close to everything, especially low-income housing, I think it's just wrong, and I won't support it."
Ambler had no problem supporting Chances, and he disagreed with Presley.
"This place is voluntary participation, adults only," he said. "Older folks go there. It's adult entertainment, pretty innocent. It doesn't strike me at all that they are trying to double the amount of people who are drinking."
While Theos noted the city hasn't heard anything of any concern from the facility, he wondered why the current capacity of 199 wasn't enough.
"To change that to the occupant load of 419 seems a bit excessive when it's only $400 of sales," he said. "Is the focus going to change from gaming?"
Only 10 per cent of guests choose to drink — or about 63 people out of the 630 average daily attendance, explained Villa, noting gross liquor sales currently average about $12,000 per month or $400 per day.
"It's not a huge thing for us, but it is an amenity and a matter of convenience," he said.
Playtime is not looking to expand the actual service but wants people to be able to move around with their drink, explained Villa.
"Our primary business is gaming, but alcohol is an expected amenity," he emphasized.

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