VLT vote a bust — Rocky residents vote no to gambling terminals

Voters gave a resounding thumbs down Monday to the return of video lottery terminals in Rocky Mountain House.

Voters gave a resounding thumbs down Monday to the return of video lottery terminals in Rocky Mountain House.

More than 75 per cent of the 1,150 people who voted in the plebiscite opted to keep the machines out of town.

Mayor Jim Bague said 874 people voted against the re-introduction of the machines while 274 voted in favour.

Voters turfed the machines 12 years ago voting 65 per cent in favour of pulling the plug.

Jim Pogson, with the Rocky Mountain House Pubs and Lounge Association, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the result.

He said he spent 16 hours phoning people who signed the petition calling on town council to hold the plebiscite.

More than 800 people signed the petition.

About 1,000 people voted Monday while 178 people cast ballots in an advance poll.

Rev. Len Batterink of the Ministerial Association which opposed the machines, said businesses that contend they rely on gambling and other devices need to find “other tools” to make revenues.

“I’m gratified. But I’ve always said this wasn’t about the local pubs and bars.

“We’ve almost seemed to have gotten used to VLTs.

He said people almost have a “cheerful cynicism about these things and that’s not good.”

Batterink said there’s a larger question about the machines in the provinces in general.

“Some think it’s good because some of the money is turned over to charities.

“There’s got to be a better way to get money for charities,” he added.

“We’re really disappointed that they exist in the province,” the pastor said.

“At the same time I do feel for the businesses which are losing money and people.”

Pogson said he was disappointed the pub association wasn’t asked to have people scrutinize the voting.

“I didn’t expect anything from the town because town council leans toward the churches.”

Pogson said with the economy hurting badly, he hoped the extra revenue from the machines would result in keeping the staff he has at Duffers Pub in the Tamarack Motor Inn in Rocky.

Bague said the results show the town is still solidly opposed to VLTs.

He said it appears the no side was more organized.

Pogson said in recent months business has been down 30 to 40 per cent.

He didn’t expect the VLTs would make a difference on the weekends, but during the week he hoped the gambling machines could bring in more people and increase liquor sales.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

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