CBRM signs off on casino lease re­newal

Coun­cil­lor wants big­ger share of gam­ing pot

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY NANCY KING SYD­NEY MINES nk­ing@cb­post.com

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional coun­cil has re­newed its lease ar­range­ment with Casino Nova Sco­tia, but at least one mem­ber of coun­cil would like to see the mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­ceive a more lu­cra­tive cut of the rev­enues it pro­vides the province.

At its reg­u­lar monthly coun­cil ses­sion Tues­day, coun­cil­lors voted in favour of re­new­ing the lease, which sees the CBRM re­ceive $300,000 an­nu­ally for leas­ing the land on which the casino, op­er­ated by Great Cana­dian Gam­ing, sits. One change made to the agree­ment sees that, rather than re­new­ing for a straight 30- year term, the re­newal term will read as an op­tion to ex­tend the term of the lease for three con­sec­u­tive terms of 10 years.

Jim McGro­gan, vice-pres­i­dent of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment with Great Cana­dian Gam­ing, said it pro­posed the change to align bet­ter with the 10-year agree­ment it has with the Nova Sco­tia Pro­vin­cial Lot­ter­ies and Casino Corp. for op­er­at­ing the casino.

The new ar­range­ment will not see the CBRM re­ceive less than the an­nual rent it cur­rently col­lects from the casino.

“It al­lows you ac­tu­ally to look ev­ery 10 years at the rent again, at the same time hav­ing the pro­tec­tion that it’s never go­ing to be less than it is to­day,” McGro­gan said.

Chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Marie Walsh noted that, based on ap­praisals, the rent cur­rently be­ing paid is well above mar­ket value. De­spite a chal­leng­ing lo­cal econ­omy and di­min­ish­ing pop­u­la­tion, the Syd­ney casino’s rev­enues have re­mained rel­a­tively con­sis­tent since 2004-2005, at $20-22 mil­lion an­nu­ally. That in­cludes more than $8 mil­lion that goes to the province each year, with an al­lo­ca­tion of more than $2.5 mil­lion of that amount for First Na­tion com­mu­ni­ties. Dist. 8 Coun. Kavin Sac­cary noted that rep­re­sents money that is re­moved from the lo­cal econ­omy.

“We talk about eco­nomic hard­ship in this mu­nic­i­pal­ity, and we talk about the casino tak­ing $ 20- 22 mil­lion a year out of our econ­omy,” he said. “That con­cerns me,”

Sac­cary said he has en­joyed at­tend­ing the casino him­self, but he is dis­turbed when he sees some pa­trons who overex­tend them­selves when gam­bling. He added he would like to see the CBRM ex­plore with the province whether there are other op­por­tu­ni­ties for the CBRM to ben­e­fit from gam­ing rev­enues.

Walsh said the is­sue of rev­enue-shar­ing falls out­side the term of the lease agree­ment and would have to be ad­dressed with the province. CBRM of­fi­cials have held dis­cu­sions with the province about ac­cess­ing ad­di­tional rev­enues from the casino and fur­ther meet­ings are ex­pected, she added.

The Syd­ney casino em­ploys about 130 peo­ple, with an an­nual pay­roll of more than $ 4 mil­lion. It also pays about $342,000 in an­nual prop­erty taxes and spends about $1.5 mil­lion a year with Cape Bre­ton ven­dors.

“We talk about eco­nomic hard­ship in this mu­nic­i­pal­ity, and we talk about the casino tak­ing $ 20- 22 mil­lion a year out of our econ­omy.”

Dist. 8 Coun. Kavin Sac­cary

Walsh

Sac­cary

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