A healthy crowd of interested parties was on hand July 26 for the ribbon cutting of the new Chances Gaming Centre just north of West Kootenay Regional Airport on Highway 3A.
Manager Chad Bullock, ownership member Ralph Berezan and up to 60 newly hired local employees could have been forgiven for some pre-opening butterflies as onlookers shuffled and waited.
Just before 1 p.m. some brief comments were made by Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff, Bullock, Berezan and BC Lottery Corporation director of operations Rod Bailey. They knew the gallery was waiting for the wraps to come off the brand new facility.
The Mayor re-emphasized points he had made following a council meeting some weeks before, that the gaming centre is a benefit for the city and area, and ought to stem the tide of gaming-destined funds being taken out of the area.
Just prior to the ribbon cutting manager Chad Bullock, a Fort St. John native, said things had all gone “really well” leading up to opening day.
“It’s been great hiring the staff,” he said. “We’ve found a lot of excellent, wonderful people in the area.”When I first arrived in June it was primarily just a shell. As you can see it’s an amazing facilty… it’s going to just detail the area.”
Bullock comes to Castlegar by way of a similar stint in Terrace. One of the challenges he feels has been met, something related to a relatively out-of-the-way location, is an efficient supply network. On this point he also feels the Terrace experience will serve him well.
“It was tricky but not un-doable.” As for the sense of anticipation Bullock said,”It’s going to be great working with all our staff. They’re all prepared and excited. Some of them, I know, didn’t sleep very well last night. They just wanted to get in here and show the public what we have.”
Rod Bailey told the throng that research indicates the facility is expected to generate over nine million dollars annually, with a percentage of that money sticking around the area.Just how the ratio works out will be interesting to keep track of in years to come.