Casino revenue dwindles

The City of Nanaimo saw its share of casino revenue decline six per cent between 2014 and 2013.

Maintaining increased casino revenues wasn’t in the cards for the City of Nanaimo, which saw its cut drop six per cent last year.

The City of Nanaimo’s share from Great Canadian Casinos was just under $2.4 million last year – a $154,000 decrease from 2013.

It’s not the turnaround in revenue the city had banked on.

As a casino host, Nanaimo gets 10 per cent of the cash flow from gaming tables and slots after prizes, providing the municipality with an alternative revenue that it’s used toward policing, social grants and the Nanaimo Museum.

Since 2008 there have been year-over-year declines, with the city’s share falling from $3 million to $2.3 in 2012 – a pattern the casino blamed on competitive gaming and cautious spending as a result of the economic downturn. That losing streak stopped in 2013 when the city got $2.55 million in gambling dollars. It was $250,000 more than it had planned for, and it was considered a “safe bet” to assume it would see a similar share in 2014, according to Brian Clemens, the municipality’s director of finance, who said that turned out not to be the case.

“I am not an expert in the field, so I couldn’t tell you what’s a trend and what’s a blip in casino revenue,” he said. “I think that the fact that it went back down in 2014 will tell me that we need to be conservative as going forward in the future and not just assume revenue will increase again.”

The shortfall will be covered off by reserves, but as one of the alternatives to taxation, if the city plans on future casino revenue reductions, it means making up the difference elsewhere – including the potential for higher taxes or reducing expenditures, said Clemens.

The city planned $2.5 million into the budget this year before it saw the 2014 total, and will have to consider whether to stay with the estimate or change it moving forward.

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