During the casino bid process, the city said its preferred site had excellent transportation accessibility and was already zoned for commercial tourism.
Times and attitudes have certainly changed when it comes to casinos.
In 2016, the City of Delta wasted no time submitting an expression of interest to the BC Lottery Corporation to house a new casino.
In its expression of interest, Delta’s vision for a gaming facility was for a “comprehensive entertainment complex” that would include a hotel, conference center, and restaurant.
It was a far cry from the city’s attitude toward the game in the late 1990s, when one was started for the Tsawwassen First Nation.
At the time, Delta voiced its opposition to a proposed destination casino and bingo facility in the First Nation, which would have partnered with Lady Luck Entertainment.
At that time, the con. Bruce McDonald, who still sits on the board, said they had always unanimously opposed TFN’s plans to build a casino.
The council also warned that it would not extend municipal services to any casinos.
In 1996, the NDP government announced its Expanded Gaming Initiative which called for destination casinos, slot machines, and increased betting limits at charity casinos.
Com. Krista Engelland replied, “’The momentum at Delta has been ‘no’ to the game. We are still waiting for the staff to bring back a rule amendment banning Club Keno.”
Other city councils at the time also disliked the idea of expanding the game, including Coquitlam and Richmond.
Lou Sekora, who was the mayor of Coquitlam, said he was “totally opposed to any further expansion of the game”.
In the late 1990s, Richmond Council refused to allow the Great Canadian Casino Company to move its tiny town casino to the much larger confines of the empty Bridgeport Market site.
The community was concerned about an expansion of gambling activities and wanted limits on the size of gambling facilities, said Greg Halsey-Brandt, mayor of Richmond.
Coquitlam and Richmond have finally changed their minds and big casinos are now a part of life in these cities, as well as others.
Bucking the trend somewhat was Surrey, which had two gaming facilities.
A few years ago, Surrey was reportedly home to a larger casino planned by Gateway, which wanted to transfer its gaming license from Newton Bingo Hall to a proposed $100 million casino complex.
Surrey Council rejected the request, a move that prompted BCLC, which was looking to expand the game south of the Fraser and the North Coast, to invite towns to submit expressions of interest.
That’s when Delta stepped in with an expression of interest.
The City of Surrey and TFN were also invited to submit a submission.
Surrey, however, said no.
Stating that he wanted more information, the TFN submission had no chosen location. The First Nation said they wanted more information, but also wanted to clarify that there was no obligation by submitting an expression of interest.
Delta’s bid was clearly much more enthusiastic with a location already chosen on the Town & Country site. BCLC initially preferred that the city find another location, including one in North Delta, before accepting the site chosen by Delta.
At the city’s 2018 public hearing on the application, McDonald said Delta initially rejected the idea of having a standalone casino, wanting more amenities to serve the community.
He also said the project has many supporters in Delta.
“I understand there are a lot of people who, for very valid reasons, oppose gambling, but I don’t know of a pub in Delta that isn’t a mini-casino,” he said. .
Board members and the public who supported the request also warned that TFN could end up with a casino if Delta rejects the proposal.
Fast forward to 2022 and Delta residents will be playing slots at the new Cascades Casino Delta this fall.
Although no opening date has been announced, Gateway Casino & Entertainment Ltd. confirmed that it expects the new casino that is rapidly taking shape next to the Interstate 99 and 17A interchange to open later this year.
The $87 million casino/hotel complex will feature a 40,000 square foot gaming hall with approximately 500 slot machines, 18 live table games and four to six electronic table games based on game and terminal configuration for stadium-style games.
The facility will not have a sportsbook but will have a Match Eatery & Public House, a buffet and an Atlas Steak + Fish Restaurant.