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Castlegar takes its Chances with new gaming casino, open today

 Today’s the big day – after years of anticipation, Chances Gaming Centre will finally be opening its doors in Castlegar.

Grand opening celebrations begin with an invitation-only reception, from noon to 4 p.m., with over 200 guests ranging from the local MP and MLA, as well as mayors-and-councils from all tri-city communities, to contractors and other members of the business community that have been working with Chances to date.
 
‘There’ll be appetizers, non-alcoholic beverages, tours of the facility,” said Chances general manager Chad Bullock. “At 1 p.m., there will be speeches by Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, as well as Ralph Berezan (president and CEO of casino developers Berezan Management) and Rod Bailey, BCLC (B.C. Lottery Corporation) director of casino and community gaming, operations.
 
“At 2 p.m., the slot machines will be turned on for a little bit of sneak-peak play,” he said.
 
At 4 p.m., the doors will open to the public, with gift bags going to the first 500 patrons.
 
“Anyone who signs up for a gold card, which is a BCLC players reward program, gets 5,000 free points right off the bat, and anyone with a gold card will get to play Ka-Plink for prizes today, and all weekend,” Bullock said.
 
No card? No problem. He also said patrons can enjoy free bingo on Chances electronic terminals over the next three days, with winners taking home merchandise and prizes.
 
He said the restaurant is serving a truncated VIP menu, and there will be free appetizers and coffee all day. Live entertainment between 7 and 11 p.m. will feature local talent Janive Fenier, Christina Amelio, Elaine Ryder and Josh Lettington.
 
“We are very excited about the opportunity to open this building in Castlegar,” Bullock said. “It will be a great benefit to local businesses and the community.”
 
Located at 100 Hall Road, the 20,000 square foot facility will feature 99 slot machines, one electronic blackjack machine and 150 electronic bingo seats on a 9,400 square foot gaming floor. Amenities include a restaurant, meeting rooms and a licensed lounge.
 
“I believe this facility will be a positive addition to the City of Castlegar,” said Berezan “On top of job opportunities and attracting visitors, Chances Castlegar is expected to generate $9.6 million in net win after its first operating year – a portion of which will directly benefit the community.”
 
Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff said he’s over-the-moon to see the centre finally complete.
 
“It’s absolutely tremendous; a huge asset, not just to Castlegar, but to the entire West Kootenay region,” he said. “Creating 60 news jobs for our community – you have to like that.”
 
When asked how he responds to local criticism of the venture and its potential negative impacts on a social level (ie problem gambling), he said the vast majority of casino patrons gamble responsibly.
 
“There’s a down side to every industry,” he said. “But in terms of social issues around the gaming centre, there are safeguards and protections in place, as well as resources like counselling services.
 
“People are gambling anyway – they’re just not doing it here,” he said. “They’re heading by the busload to places like Bonner’s Ferry and Chewelah, and there’s no return in that to the citizens in Castlegar. None.
 
“Chances will bring people to the region and encourage locals to spend locally.”