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Public support for gambling linked to grants: NDP critic

Cutting gaming grants may reduce public support for gambling, said New Democratic Party housing and social development critic Shane Simpson.

“The gaming money is a unique pot of money,” said Simpson. “That money came about in the 1990s when we started to ramp up gaming in this province, and people in the province weren't so sure that they liked that.”

But people came to support increased gambling because of the amount of money it put back into their communities through non-profit agencies and other organizations, he said. “That was the social contract,” he said. “This government doesn't respect or believe that social contract has value. They've ripped it up.”

Housing and social development minister Rich Coleman said he thinks the cuts to gaming grants won't diminish public support for gaming. The grants are still funding parent advisory councils, youth sports and some arts and culture programs, he said.

“The gaming grants are part of our overall budget,” he said in response to a question about how the government set the budget for grants at $120 million for 2010-2011. “We're facing a $1.7 billion deficit. That is on the backs of our children and our grandchildren, so you want to be as prudent as you possibly can.”

The province expects to net $1.1 billion in revenue from the B.C. Lottery Corporation in 2010-2011.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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