Two non-profit clubs in Moncton have backed down on using unlicensed video lottery terminals and removed their machines after an ultimatum from the province.
The Air Force Veterans Club of Moncton decided to bring in unlicensed video lottery terminals in May 2013.
The club lost its legal Atlantic Lottery machines three years earlier when the $100-million Casino New Brunswick opened in Moncton. To help ensure the success of the casino, the number of VLT sites in the province were cut by more than 50 per cent, from 625 to 300. The number of machines was reduced by nearly 25 per cent, from 2,650 to 2,000.
'You take away their machines, a place like this, they shouldn't have done that.' - Bob Leger
The Air Force Club was one of the legal sites to lose its Atlantic Lottery machines.
"You take away their machines, a place like this, they shouldn't have done that," said Bob Leger, who accompanied his veteran father to a lunch at the club this week. "Take them away from someone else, but not a place like this.
"They really need this," said Leger. "You know, for the veterans."
When the machines disappeared, members, bar revenue, and the ability to give money back to the community went with them.
"The food banks, the Christmas Daddies, . . . . the hospitals,"" says spokesman Reg Lebans. "We were making $5,000 donations a year to both hospitals for a number of years."
The Air Force Club turned to grey machines in May 2013. In eight months, the machines netted the club $28,000.
'We weren't letting people in off the street. I don't think the Air Force Vets Club would hurt the casino.' - Reg Lebans, Air Force Veterans Club spokesman
"What we were doing here was for our members," said Lebans. "We weren't letting people in off the street. I don't think the Air Force Vets club would hurt the casino."
But when the province issued its 72-hour ultimatum in December, the Air Force Club decided it had no choice but to remove its grey machines. The nearby Elks Club did the same thing.
Casino general manager Craig DeMarte says the casino is extremely concerned about illegal machines, but admits it is difficult to measure how much money the casino is losing to them.