1 min

Gaming cuts could hurt

Community groups fear impact of looming cuts

Credit: Robin Perelle

Changes to BC’s gaming act could spell trouble for many of Vancouver’s gay choirs and groups who depend on casino revenues to stay afloat.

In the past, BC has shared part of its gaming revenues with non-profit groups “of significant benefit” to their local communities. Now, that could change.

Two months ago, the government streamlined its gaming branches and hinted at tighter funding eligibility criteria for next year. And this year’s funds have been slow in coming.

The Vancouver Lesbian and Gay Choir (VLGC) has been applying for, and receiving, casino funds for the last few years. This year it’s still waiting for a cheque, even though it filed its application more than nine months ago. And VLGC Treasurer Art Pearson is worried.

The VLGC is counting on this money, Pearson explains. Bills are starting to pile up and the cheque is still nowhere in sight.

If the money doesn’t come soon the choir may have to increase its fundraising efforts, a prospect Pearson is less than optimistic about. All the gay choirs are in the same boat, he explains. That means they would all have to compete for the same donations just to stay alive. “We’re all sort of hitting the same pot,” Pearson says.

“I’m concerned for our whole community,” he continues. “Anytime a community organization dies, we lose something. We lose support, we lose a part of our sense of community, we lose a chance for outreach.”

And the choirs aren’t the only groups feeling the pinch.

The director of the Positive Women’s Network says her group can’t take more budget cuts-especially as the need for services continues to rise.

The network, which supports women living with HIV/AIDS, relies on casino funds for up to 12 percent of its budget. “It’s certainly not a negligible amount by any means,” Marcie Summers says.

A spokesperson for the BC government’s gaming branch says this year’s cheques are in the mail-or, at least, they will be soon. As for next year, the government is re-thinking its gaming funds system but won’t say whether tougher eligibility criteria are in the works.