Where did your passion for bingo come from and being from Saskatchewan, how did you end up in Kelowna, British Columbia?
As a kid my grandpa would drop me off at bingo to play with the ladies while he visited at the Legion. From there I developed a liking and understanding of bingo, but more importantly – the joy the players got from yelling the word BINGO and it has stuck with me throughout my life. In 1980, at age 20, I experienced paper dabber bingo in Ontario, which then led to the opening of Regina Bingo Palace in 1982, with my sister and her husband. We quickly realized we were onto something big and opened twelve successful bingo operations in Western Canada. Kelowna Bingo Palace was opened in 1985 and in 1992 I became the sole owner with a vision to create what became Bingo Kelowna. It was a state of the art bingo facility that was the grandest of its kind in Canada – some even say in North America.
In 2004 after bingo halls expressed a desire to add more gaming options to their bingo floor, government saw fit to approve slot gaming into bingo halls. In cooperation with BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corporation), Bingo Kelowna soon turned into Chances Kelowna with more than just bingo. Slots, off-track horse racing and licensed food & beverage were also added into the facility making it one of the most diverse places for adults to seek entertainment. Chances has since not stopped growing, Longshots Lounge has become a successful restaurant, the gaming floor has expanded from only fifty slots to over two-hundred seventy slots and offers some of the most new and popular games available – including electronic tables.
The interesting part about the gaming industry is that it is always changing. The twelve years in creating Chances Kelowna has been a constant change and the need to create new offerings in the gaming industry and around the world. We are fortunate to have great manufacturers and BCLC to work with to bring all of the innovation in the gaming industry available at our doorstep. Some of the things that have been rewarding to me are that I’ve had the ability to adapt and grow in such a beautiful place like Kelowna, where I call home – it has honestly been extremely rewarding to have engaged with so many people that have worked at Chances over the years and to have helped some of them move on to careers of their own; or in some cases have even come back to Chances. The thing that has kept me most excited about this business are the people I meet, our customers, and that continues to be a source of great enjoyment in coming to work each day – it was pleasurable 30 years ago and still is today.
A visit to Chances should start by walking into the property and feeling like it reaches out and gives you a warm hug. It was never designed to be a hard-core gambling place. It was always meant to be a gathering place for people to escape into a world of gaming entertainment and to enjoy a good time with friends, good food in a relaxing environment.
The future of Chances will be to see more advanced technology coming from manufacturers of bingo and gaming equipment to continue to be a part of the community that has made Chances what it is today and never lose sight of that. To work hard to be known as an employer of choice for the city and to remain the entertainment location of choice for anyone looking for a casual and enjoyable time out with friends or on their own. And as long as I still look forward to coming to work each day, I’ll continue to be involved in the day-to-day operations of Chances.