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Former bureaucrat on gambling industry payroll

A former top provincial bureaucrat has been working for the bingo hall and community gaming industry.

In an e-mail, Registered Gaming Management Companies of B.C. president Tom Nellis stated his association retains ex-Socred and New Democrat government deputy minister Frank Rhodes "on a part time basis" -- along with "a number of other business consultants."

According to Nellis, Rhodes "coordinates industry operational services contract negotiations" with the British Columbia Lotteries Corp. "and works with our members in administering those contracts."

Nellis declined to say whether Rhodes, who has been working "from time to time" for the association since 2001, is employed on a contract basis.

Other gaming facility owners provided more detail.

In an interview, Williams Lake community gaming centre owner Merle Gardner described the former deputy minister as the Registered Gaming Management Companies of B.C.'s "executive director."

"He sits at meetings with us, takes notes, does whatever," Gardner.

"He's kind of our spokesperson too," said Terrace bingo hall owner John Becher, in a separate interview. "And we pay him so much for his work."

For his own part, Rhodes, who chaired a working group that produced a 452-page, 1999 report on gaming legislation and regulation for the then New Democrat government, stated, "Disclosure of my work for any client, including whether I work for them at all, is the right of the client and not something that I have authority to divulge."

Rhodes, who was the deputy minister to Premier Bill Vander Zalm, is also the former president and chief executive officer of B.C. Ferries Corp.

Last week, 24 hours revealed British Columbia's largest bingo and community gaming centre operator has been getting help from former casino executive and long-time Liberal campaigner Jacee Schaefer.

And, in an earlier interview, Nellis -- the chief executive officer of that company -- also said top provincial Liberal operative Patrick Kinsella has also done free favours for the bingo hall and community gaming centre industry.

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