Courtenay casino closer to expanding liquor

Chances Courtenay is a step closer to expanding its liquor licence capacity and serving hours after council supported its request Monday.

Art Villa, co-ordinator of business development for Playtime Gaming, came before council asking for an increase in the capacity of Chances Courtenay's licensed area and a permanent change to its liquor licence hours of sale.

The gaming facility applied to permanently change its liquor licence hours of sale from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. to coincide with its hours of operation. It also applied to increase its licensed area capacity from 199 seats to be able to serve the entire floor area.

"People expect to be able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, and they expect to be able to enjoy it whether they're playing a machine in one corner or a machine in another," Villa told council, as he explained customers are not allowed to move about freely in the establishment with alcoholic drinks because only 74 per cent of the public area is licensed to serve alcohol.

"The availability of alcohol in a gaming facility is an amenity expected by customers throughout B.C.," he said in a letter to the City. "Please note that we have more than 1,200 petition signatures collected in support of licensing the entire facility."

He also pointed out 200 customers were surveyed in 2010, and 93 per cent were over the age of 45. And alcohol is not a main source of revenue for the gaming facility; an average of 630 customers visit per day, but only 86 drinks are sold per day.

According to a City staff report, the Comox Valley RCMP reviewed the applications and stated: "We have no objections at this juncture given their past demonstrated abilities to police their licensed establishment. We would hope that an approval will yield the same results in the future."

Coun. Jon Ambler noted the application to increase the capacity of its licensed area was brought before council over a year ago. Though it was turned down at that time, he supported it, and still supported it Monday.

"There is no problem with them from the RCMP. There is no problem with trouble from them on their premises," said Ambler. "There is absolutely no reason to deny this request."

Coun. Doug Hillian noted a recent RCMP report regarding overserving and problem behaviour at some licensed establishments in town and commended Chances Courtenay on its practices.

Chances Courtenay does not allow 'stacking,' which means one drink must be finished before another is served. It has onsite security, and video surveillance of the building and parking lot.

Notices will be sent to property owners and businesses within 100 metres of the gaming facility to request input. Both applications are expected to come back before council July 3.

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