Opposition to Vancouver mega-casino pure political theatre

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

33 comments

bellagio_hotel_fountains.jpg
Could a new mega-casino be heading to downtown Vancouver soon? You bet!

There are times having to watch Vancouver City Council can be very painful. Today was one of them. On the agenda was an item referring to a mega-casino being proposed for the newly renovated BC Place site. Compared to the kind of casinos found in Vegas, the Paragon proposal is nowhere near that scale. However, the fact it's being built in downtown Vancouver is bound to stir up some emotions.

It's worth recalling that casinos (sans the slot machines) have been around a long time in Vancouver. They were initially introduced as a way of helping to fund charitable causes and were quite small in scope. Sure there were poker and roulette tables, but they looked nothing like their American cousins down in Nevada.

Fast forward to the 1990's when NDP Premier Glen Clark decided that casinos were going to get slot machines as a way of keeping them "competitive" with casinos across the border. In reality, it also meant hundreds of millions in new revenue to fund health care and education. Back then the NPA and BC Liberal opposition worked alongside anti-gambling advocates to fight the NDP's initiative and eventually they won the day - there would be no slots in Vancouver casinos, at least for now.

As each year passed, Vancouver's non-slot casinos began to show their age. While suburban casinos with glitzy names and thousands of noisy slot machines began popping up in places like Richmond and Coquitlam, that couldn't be said for Vancouver. More importantly, millions of dollars worth of new casino revenues also began flowing out of the city and into the suburbs to help fund their new programs and infrastructure.

Then in 2002 the NPA was kicked out of office and in came a new COPE government which took a radically different approach to gambling expansion. Under Mayor Larry Campbell's (now a Director for Great Canadian Casino) leadership, his left-leaning colleagues finally approved the introduction of slot machines in local casinos. That decision effectively put an end to decades worth of opposition to "Las Vegas style" casinos in Vancouver. 

That's why today's debate on a new casino at BC Place was so painful to watch. One by one the Vision and COPE politicians got up from their seats to express concerns with gambling expansion. With a pained look on their faces, each began to ask "tough" questions about the impact a new 1500 slot casino/hotel complex might have in Vancouver. It was civic political theatre at its worst.

It's hard to take these politicians seriously when they claim they have misgivings about adding a mega-casino to the downtown. After all, if Vision didn't like mega-casinos, why did they approve slot machines in Vancouver in the first place? A sure fire way of preventing a Bellagio style complex from being built would have been to keeps slots out of the city - but that horse clearly left the barn years ago.

As the city staff report reveals, supporting a new mega-casino in downtown Vancouver would mean millions in desperately needed new revenue each year. The City currently receives about $7M per year from the Edgewater Casino, but stands to rake in over $17M if a new facility is built. Just imagine how many new separated bike lanes and curbside veggie gardens that could build.

Probably the most difficult part of the debate to stomach was the portion in which Vision Vancouver Councillor Heather Deal began wagging her finger at the Provincial Government. She went on and on about how evil they were for cutting back the percentage of gambling profits directed toward charity in the province. In particular, she pointed out how hard done by the arts community were due to all these "cuts".

Excuse me? But how can Deal stand up in the chamber with a straight face when her own Vision government cut funding to the arts in one of its recent budgets. Secondly, if the City supports the arts so much, why doesn't it turn over ALL of the new $10M in new gambling profit to the Department of Cultural Services? It's a decision that Deal has 100% control over, but somehow I doubt she'll take the idea and run with it.

It should be noted that the Great Canadian Casino were generous donors to the Vision Vancouver Party. According to the Vancouver Sun municipal campaign donor database, they contributed over $10,000 to help them get elected.

Publicly beating up on the development of a new downtown casino might make for great theatre, but in the end, I predict it will get majority support from Vision Vancouver. Rest assured, the loss of $10M per year is something this or other cash-strapped civic governments can hardly pass up, regardless of the impact to the local community.

What do you think? Should Vancouver support a new maga-casino? Is this too little too late? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

- Post by Daniel

33 Comments

"[Vancouver] stands to rake in over $17M if a new facility is built. Just imagine how many new separated bike lanes and curbside veggie gardens that could build."
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Alas, at the end of the day, that will be the ultimate reason why VV will approve the project! :D

Let`s not forget who was one of Glenn Clark`s and Larry Campbell`s executive assistants - wouldn`t be Geoff Meggs now would it - Vision will approve this project - they need the money.

Two of the speakers made me chuckle.

Kerry Jang voicing his concern, for as he put it, his area of interest addictions. Someone tell this man he has the most disingenuous facial expressions...

Then we have Penny Bellam stating that we were looking to get the International Gamblers, that hopefully would take their addictions back home with them.

It really was painful to watch...even more painful was noticing that at 4:04 &4:15 Gregor updated his Facebook page, but the council meeting didn't end until 5:30..

Somebody wasn't paying attention to the proceedings...a very bad sign.

The Thought of The Night

“My name is Ballem – Penny Ballem…and it’s been six months since my last Crapshoot game!”

The New Edgewater Casino Royale is too much for One Penny ‘These are my credentials…’ Ballem .

Gregor Robertson is Penny Ballem.
Geoff Meggs is Penny Ballem.
Raymond Louie is Penny Ballem.
Andrea Reimer is Penny Ballem.
Tim Stevenson is Penny Ballem.
Heather Deal is Penny Ballem.
George Chow is Penny Ballem.
Kerry Jang is Penny Ballem.
David Cadman is Penny Ballem.
Ellen Woodsworth is Penny Ballem.
Suzan Anton is…the New Secret Weapon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEnoKqiGJFI

Join the Edgewater Casino Royale Fun Movement!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

lol @ George following Gregor on facebook!

I don't like the casino, never have, doubt I will. Not to mention the renderings were god awful.

Well this is a no brainer to go ahead. Edgewater is totally insufficient for vancouver. The gambling ship has sailed and Vancouver needs to hop aboard or watch Richmond, Coquitlam, and Burnaby wave bon voyage with Vancouvers gambling dollars.

The theatre is fun to watch at city hall though too. Why is it the people who spew the hollier than though rhetoric scurry for coins when you throw them but hate to see others do it.

Morning Boohoo
I actually stumbled on the Facebook thing by accident...but life is funny and is anything really an accident?


@yuri

Add Maple Ridge to that list.

According to my little parents - that municipality is getting a new casino as well.

Personally, I don't have a problem with it. Friends and I enjoy a night out everyonce in a while and we end up traveling to the River Rock.

I'd be curious to know if they will still be employing a certain percentage of DTES residents as they do with existing facility.

Or, is this part of Gregor's new plan on helping immigrants get jobs.....can't wait for that annoucement today.

Important public servant becomes important elected official, supports agenda of corporation promoting addictive activity, becomes important unelected official, receives sinecure job from said corporation, said corporation is implicated in money laundering.

This would make a great TV series!

@ Max
that was actually discussed during council yesterday....it got muddled with double speak at one point.

The conversation was that they would use locals,from the neighborhood, but there were concerns that they would have to reach out further to ensure enough employees... not sure what that meant. I believe it was Jang.

Are we still in the age when City governments tried to legislate their own thoughts on what is right or wrong for the residents and visitors? Every step of the way has been fought by the folks who would have us living in a backwater.My god, I can remember when we had to bring our wine in brown bags to a restaurant. And men and women had separate entrances in the old beer parlors. All that changed and are we the worse for it? Of course not. The casino will be built and will be a good addition to the entertainment options downtown. And maybe it will take some pressure away from the Richmond casino where it is hard to get in the door on Saturday nights.

The Thought of The Night

“My name is Ballem - Penny Ballem...and it’s been six months since my last Crapshoot game!”

The New Edgewater Casino Royale is too much for One Penny ‘These are my credentials...’ Ballem .

Gregor Robertson is Penny Ballem.
Geoff Meggs is Penny Ballem.
Raymond Louie is Penny Ballem.
Andrea Reimer is Penny Ballem.
Tim Stevenson is Penny Ballem.
Heather Deal is Penny Ballem.
George Chow is Penny Ballem.
Kerry Jang is Penny Ballem.
David Cadman is Penny Ballem.
Ellen Woodsworth is Penny Ballem.
Suzan Anton is...the New Secret Weapon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEnoKqiGJFI

Join the Edgewater Casino Royale Fun Movement!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

PS.
Sent the above comment last night ...twice!

The Thought of The Day

"From the 'Da Vinci Inquest' to the 'Da Vinci Incest'...everything is possible in the House of Vision."

Now I have a riddle for you,

'Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who's the dirtiest Senator?
Judgment call...or, guess it right,
Add a Green thought to your plight'

Trust me, there is a way out, eleven months away...

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Good editorial and insight, Daniel. While the action in city hall may have resembled kabuki theatre, yesterday afternoon, I found it interesting counting votes. I believe there are five votes against the casino as of yesterday, although they need pubic support and outcry to make a stand.

Outside city hall, the False Creek Residents Association have formed an alliance with the Strathcona Residents Association and Grandview-Woodlands Area Residents in addition to the BC Charitable Gaming Association and Alliance for the Arts to oppose the casino expansion.

We'll be holding a public forum on February 7 in the evening at the Roundhouse and I encourage anyone opposed to a massive, Vegas-owned and run casino in our downtown to join us that evening.

@ Sean

Paragon, already owns the Edgewater Casino.

There is no change in ownership between the exisiting casino and the proposed new facility.

Paragon bought out the Edgewater several years back went it hit the financial skids.

Funny, I think back to when this same scenerio played out when the Edgewater was first proposed. The crys of corruption etc. No casinos in Vancouver etc.

Vancouver was a lot smaller at that point in time.

And I state again, personally not against it, so I guess that means I suppport it.

I am tired of various levels of government trying to direct how we govern ourselves.


@ Sean

I was wondering if you could explain to me the Bingo portion of that Casino contract.

Over a year ago I spoke with the manager at -planet bingo- at the time they were giving up the space next door where the Legion office was housed.

A large sign was up in the parking lot right next door at the corner of Main and 11th for only 2 days describing a development plan that included underground parking for the site. Then signage disappeared.

The manager at Planet bingo stated that in a year or two you will not recognize this corner...he also stated that the Bingo hall was NOT moving.

During the meeting yesterday I noticed they mentioned that they have not found a new location for the bingo hall which is all part of this application for the Casino... are we being kept in the dark about more development?

Bang on!

I say no new gambling parlours in this city. Just looking at the long list of casinos that already operate in the Lower mainalnd, makes me thinks "saturation", and that's just the business side of things. it's just trading market share, boys.

On the expense and social side of the ledger:

More policing.
More organized crime.
More loan sharking.
More prostitution (sexual slavery)
More local people with gambling problems.
More deterioration of neighbourhoods


This kind of development speaks volumes to the short-sightedness of our provincial and local governments.It clearly shows that politicians will go for the quick fix, and focus on one source of revenue as a panaca for all budget ills, rather than building comprehensive policy that assists in attracting businesses that are sustainable. And that don't HURT their communities.

Really, gambling is the BEST we can do when talking about income generation?

Take your "risk assessment' where you shrug off the above problems, and stuff it. Really, it's easy to give a "misery discount" where's there's money to be made, right guys?

Barf. Appalling.

I will look to park my vote with anyone who is opposed to the further deteriation of REAL businnesses in Vancouver.

However, I might reconsider if this monstrosity is parked by the Mayor or the Premier's or Daniel's home.

Gregor promised to create 20,000 new "green" jobs by 2020. Therefore we really don't need these gambling jobs, unless these are what he considers as "green" jobs.

@ Jim

Suposedly Gregor was making an announcement today on a job creation program for immigrants.

I am trying to find info.

"My god, I can remember when we had to bring our wine in brown bags to a restaurant. And men and women had separate entrances in the old beer parlors. All that changed and are we the worse for it?"

That sounds awesome. Drinking should be made to appear as ridiculous as possible.

The Thought of The Day

"His Mayorship could not 'create' a half fart if you lock him in a basement with a crate full of baked beans cans, a barrel of sauerkraut and a TV...for a week,let alone 20,000 jobs!

You were to kind to suggest that, Jim. It must be the 'other' kind of $Green$ he was thinking about.
LOL

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

The Thought of The Midday

"For Immigrants...'Heigh Ho' Jobs. For Vision Friends...'Some Day My Prince Will Come' Jobs."

Despite Citycaucus not being a blog circulated, courtesy of Penny Ballem, inside City Hall, I am sure some 'resistance' cell working there in an underground capacity role will make sure to post the message, and the song:

The Message:

'Up Yours!Up Yours!'

The Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_fF6P_PQqQ

Too bad all the Green jobs are going to go to the Irish Leprechauns,to Santa's Elves from the North Pole, and to the youngest, sweetest, and silliest of the seven, the one wearing a too large lime green tunic and purple cap...Dopey.

Now, that's a Vision!

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Glissy

You really are brilliant! lol

And here it is:

Vancouver announces mentorship program to help new immigrants

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Vancouver+announces+mentorship+program+help+immigrants/4133190/story.html#ixzz1BWdADqmN

WTF? The city is now opening up a department of immigration? You gotta be kidding. Is this April fools? First they push a vegas style casino, now they are setting up an immigration dept. What a cadre of fools.

"It really was painful to watch...even more painful was noticing that at 4:04 &4:15 Gregor updated his Facebook page, but the council meeting didn't end until 5:30.."

C'mon, what do you expect? He is the crown Prince of Vancouver getting his instructions from Hollyhock. He's not an actual politician.

Win, Glissy, Win...LOL!

Jim Green thinks that gambling jobs are just hunky dory, btw.

Maybe he could host a craps game in his Woodward's condo? I am casting him as the 'Gambling Madame'.

With Andrea Reimer as the sassy drinks slingin' 'Waitress', Kerry Jang as the 'Pit Boss', Ray Louie as 'The Cigar Chomping Developer', and Heather Deal as the 'Entertainer', doing her Ethel Merman impersonation. Oh, and George Chow as 'Guy Sleeping in the Corner.'

The Mayor, of course, is too young to enter such an establishment.

The better to reach out to potential immigrant voters. Which is pretty smart.

In light of recent headlines about immigrants and culture, any outreach right now from the City, whether for political or citizenship purposes is going to be well received.

Now, you might get some reaction from recent UBC grads fuming. :-)

Such clever remarks - truly LOL

But can we talk about conflicts, lack of integrity, and appalling lack of governance from the Vision gang? All their politically hired hack "bureaucrats" have no vested interest in our city's future - they of course will be gone soonest. Their youthful view is learnt at school not from experience - Beasley & Spaxman were skilled and knowledgeable. They would never have let their Masters tell them what to do.

This Vision bunch does not take into account former City history or discussions, but only care about their redesign of the City - a la Heights and Density along with other issues they wish to rewrite, in their own vision (sorry that word is still in the English dictionary).

This is all being done without any consultation of the community...astounding. Dictatorship? Tides? US Vision?
NADA Green. Lotsa Moola.

In over 30 years I have never seen anything like it. Bully boys/girls have descended upon us.

Vancouver....it is time to stand up and make your voices heard. Attend City Council, write letters. Don't give up!

I'm fine with gaming, but what the government needs to realize is that there is not an ever expanding pot to pull from. We've already hit a saturation point with gaming and every new casino that goes up is just pulling dollars from one another.

So Vancouver builds a "bigger" casino, then the River Rock expands again, stealing the customers back.

Glissando, your post was pure satiric genius! LMAO!

So true!

Penny Ballem said that the new 'immigrant' program is designed in such a way so that the newcomers to this city will experience first hand how the city works under her 'great leadership'...and for the city employees to realize how privileged they are for working under her 'great leadership' by simply observing this unemployed, hungry hopefuls. YES. Her message came with a double meaning. To her staff:'This could be you, if you start making noise and you move out of cadence' to the newcomers 'make yourselves at home and let's see who is most docile' (for those coming from the former communist countries would be an easy adjustment) What a bunch of crap! Good friend of mine from Eastern Europe. She came to Canada some 15 years ago. Did three or four months of 'job shadowing' with the City of Vancouver (I still remember how happy and hopeful she was)than she volunteered in different capacities on some of these committees they have there, for a number of years. Does she work for the City now? NOPE. IN fact she wasn't even invited to interviews for positions in the department where she was doing the training. She is now head of IT at a renowned electronic games maker in Vancouver. What did you expect from the most nepotistic establishment in Vancouver? They do not recruit based on qualification or experience (see Ballem, Johnston, the new 'Electrical Head') but on referrals,affiliation to a certain group and it seems it's not getting any better,in fact it's getting worse.

Spot on, Michelle!
If one wants to name the best 100 companies in Vancouver to work for, that hires based on nepotism or cronyism, Vancouver City Hall tops that list. It's a known fact.

Hi George, Planet Bingo is a great illustration with the problem in the change of owners.

It was the previous local owners of the Edgewater that fostered Planet Bingo and granted them an ongoing direct stream of revenue. The new owners have honoured that agreement, but once they move will no longer be bound by it, and the offer they've made is not sufficient to sustain that community charity. They've essentially offered to given them either four years of a smaller revenue stream, or a payout which is not in any way proportionate to what the annual income would be.

That issue remains unresolved as the report submitted to council on Tuesday.

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