Public Hearings Ordered For Vancouver Casino Proposal

On Tuesday evening, Vancouver City Council voted to have public hearings in February to examine the new proposed casino complex for the city. The complex that is currently being considered will, if built, be the largest complex of its size in Western Canada. Staff in the city will be conducting a number of different public meetings on this issue as an adjunct to the proposed February 17 hearings.

One concern raised at the council meeting was problem gambling. Current estimates in British Columbia show that 4.6% of the population have a gambling problem. Councilor Geoff Meggs, of Vision Vancouver, raised concerns about enforcing strict standards in order to ward off problems with money laundering and criminal activity experienced at other casinos. Councilor Meggs asked for information on how the city and the province will restore confidence that casinos are not being used for illegal purposes.

Ellen Woodsworth, COPE councilor asked for a review of all public gaming in the city. This is expected to be discussed further at the city council meeting this Thursday, January 20. Many voters have expressed concerns after a recent CBC News report of cash transactions that were considered suspicious. These occurred at two separate casinos located in the Lower Mainland.

The Edgewater Casino, when moved, will have two hotels that will have 150 gaming tables and 1500 slot machines. In their current location at Plaza Nations, they have only 600 slot machines. Penny Ballem, the City Manager stressed that this will be a destination casino and could generate revenues as high as $17 million. This would be an increase of $10 million to the city coffers.

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