hi-vlt

The band owns approximately 55 hectares of land in the area. They've opened a centre to house 45 video lottery terminals. (CBC)

A new video lottery terminal gaming centre has opened in the Halifax area, despite outcry from residents who fear it will lead to a spike in gambling addiction.

But the native community behind the facility says the revenue is needed to resolve a housing shortage.

The centre, which houses 45 VLTs, is located in the suburb of Hammonds Plains on territory belonging to the Shubenacadie First Nation.

Nathan Sack of the Shubenacadie band said his community needs the VLT money to help alleviate a dire housing situation.

"I'm hoping it's going to mean more self-reliance,” said David Nevin, manager of economic development for the band.

“You know we're going to be able to do programs and stuff like that, not just for children and the elderly, but everyone."

Not family friendly 

But some who live near the gaming centre say they are worried it makes gambling too easily accessible.

Joanne Worden said the band should have considered opening a different business more suited for the family-oriented neighbourhood, like a gas station or restaurant.

Tracie Afifi, a professor at the University of Manitoba, says a study she helped write concluded that VLT gambling outside of casinos constitutes the greatest risk for problem gamblers.

She said it's hard for problem gamblers to control their habits when VLTs are easily accessible.

Chief Rufus Copage said it's the first phase of the development.

"We're going to be looking at it for future expansion of this area, we want to build apartments, maybe some hotels and restaurants."

The centre is not licensed and will be open from 9 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week.

With files from CBC News