October 11, 2017 7:49 pm

Residents to vote on whether to end VLT ban in Coaldale

After being voted out of the community in the mid-1990s, VLTs might make a return to the Town of Coaldale. Joe Scarpelli reports.

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In addition to voting for the next town council, residents of Coaldale will also have the chance to weigh in on whether to bring Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs) back to the town when they cast their ballots next week.

Kim Kirk, a manager at KC’s Pub, has worked at local bars since the 1990s, when VLTs were still legal in Coaldale.

“Twenty years ago, it was a lot busier during the day [and] at nighttime,” she said on Wednesday. “We had our regulars, we had our people that stopped in from out of town.”

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Kirk said ever since VLTs got voted out of town almost 20 years ago, the bar scene has changed and she hopes residents will vote to bring back VLTs next week.

“The people in Coaldale that play VLTs now, they still play the VLTs,” Kirk said. “They just take their money elsewhere and it’s very inconvenient for them to go to another entire city or town.”

But Coaldale resident Carla Murray said she doesn’t feel the same.

“It is addictive and I don’t believe in preying upon the weaknesses of other people,” she told Global News.

Murray is concerned with the potential gambling addictions VLTs can bring to a community. She grew up with parents addicted to alcohol.

“Having gone through that experience, I feel like I would never want another child to go through that,” she said.

Coaldale was one of seven towns to ban VLTs in 1998. With renewed interest in recent years, a plebiscite is being used to determine the way forward.

“The majority of council felt that the decision should lie in the hands of the voters of Coaldale because it was predominantly a morals issue, something that would set the values of the community as a whole,” Coaldale mayor Kim Craig said.

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission says VLTs generated over $530 million province-wide last year, funding thousands of volunteer, public and community-based initiatives.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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