Tag Archives: BCLC

Please help support Adriane Carr’s Motion B4 asking for removal of Michael Graydon & for a restrictive covenant

We are asking our supporters to come to City Hall on WEDNESDAY July 23 [NOTE: this is a change from Tuesday July 22] to support a motion being put forward to Vancouver City Council by CouncILLOR Adriane Carr.

[Update late Tues: Adriane’s motion got a seconder – George Affleck. This means the motion will be presented tomorrow, Wednesday, sometime before noon most likely. The committee meeting starts at 9:30 and Adriane’s motion is 4th on the list. But we’ll update you regularly! Please plan on coming!]

WITH YOUR HELP we can force Michael Graydon’s ouster as CEO of Paragon Gaming.
Michael Graydon BCLC
AND
 
We can get Council to impose a restrictive covenant banning gambling expansion on Edgewater’s new site.
Councillor Adriane Carr will table a motion on Tuesday, July 22, asking that Vancouver Council request the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch to direct his removal, AND for an anti-expansion restrictive covenant to be placed on the BC Place lands as a Development Permit condition. The motion will then be put forward to Wednesday for discussion.
WE NEED YOU TO COME TO COUNCIL AND SPEAK TO THIS MOTION (if speakers are allowed, and we’ll know that on Tuesday) ON WEDNESDAY MORNING at 9:30.
Please register by CALLING 311 before 5 pm on Monday, or by REGISTERING IN PERSON on Tuesday by 9:15.
Say you want to speak to Councillor Carr’s motion B4.
Tell City Council that Michael Graydon and Paragon Gaming have to pay for their misconduct. We need government with the guts to say no to special treatment for insiders.
Thanks so much!
More background here:

Vancouver Not Vegas calls for Graydon to be removed from Paragon Gaming

Vancouver DPB

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver Not Vegas calls for Michael Graydon to be removed from Paragon Gaming

Vancouver, July 11, 2014:  Following the report of the BC government’s internal auditor, Vancouver Not Vegas renews its February 13th call for the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) to block PV Hospitality (a Paragon Gaming-related company) from employing Michael Graydon.

“The government has the power to halt Mr. Graydon’s employment with Paragon and must act decisively to protect the public trust and integrity of the gaming industry,” says Ian Pitfield, a retired lawyer and member of Vancouver Not Vegas.

“The public can’t trust Michael Graydon, it’s that simple.” says Sandy Garossino, spokesperson for Vancouver Not Vegas. “This goes far beyond his $125,000 severance package. He will guide PV Hospitality through the BCLC development subsidy program, which might amount to as much as $100 million or more. The fox is in charge of the henhouse, and our government has to step in.”

The public interest must be protected in the face of the auditor’s report and statements by BCLC board chair Bud Smith, which demonstrate that Mr. Graydon:

  • Violated BCLC’s conflict of interest guidelines
  • Provided incomplete or inaccurate information to the BCLC board
  • Breached the no-contact provision of his resignation settlement
  • Maintained access to confidential BCLC material for 10 days post-employment

The auditor further found that other casino service providers expressed concern that Mr. Graydon’s knowledge could provide an advantage to Paragon Gaming.

In related news, Paragon Gaming currently co-owns and manages the Eagle River Casino, a small truck stop operation in Whitecourt Alberta, which has filed for bankruptcy, owing $100 million to creditors.

NOTE: Please also see our prior statement of February 13, 2014
http://vancouvernotvegas.ca/2014/02/vancouver-not-vegas-calls-on-province-to-block-graydon-appointment/
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Media contact:
Sandy Garossino
Please TEXT queries to:
778-231-5230

Michael Graydon BCLC
Michael Graydon, now of Paragon Gaming, formerly CEO of BC Lottery Corp

 

Report: Michael Graydon found to be in conflict of interest

Michael Graydon BCLC

Vancouver Not Vegas is available for media interviews in response to the BC government’s report on conflict of interest in the case of Michael Graydon’s move from the BC Lottery Corp to Paragon Gaming.

We will be issuing a full statement tomorrow, July 11.

TEXT MEDIA REQUESTS TO: 778-231-5230

Please see the story in the Vancouver Sun:  Former BC Lottery Corporation CEO in conflict when he took private job, review finds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver Not Vegas Calls for Reinstatement of Specialized Casino Police Unit

Photo via CBC
The Vancouver Not Vegas coalition calls for Premier Clark to reinstate the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET), following revelations that suspicious transactions have more than doubled in casinos since 2011.

In 2009 the specialized casino police unit IIGET was disbanded weeks after it warned then Solicitor-General Rich Coleman that organized crime had infiltrated the gambling industry and was actively laundering money and loan sharking in casinos (see Appendix A).

By 2011 cash monitoring had deteriorated so severely that the BC Lottery Corporation was fined almost $700,000 by the federal agency FINTRAC for failure to control suspicious transactions at casinos.

“This is a complete systemic collapse of governance,” says Sandy Garossino, spokesperson for Vancouver Not Vegas. “There’s been no specialized policing presence in casinos for 5 years and organized crime has been brazenly active the whole time. BCLC has completely failed to control casino criminal activity.”

Vancouver Not Vegas renews its calls for former BCLC CEO Michael Graydon to be deemed unsuitable for employment with Paragon Gaming.  “Did Graydon know about this report when he jumped without warning from BCLC?” asks Garossino. “For at least 5 years Graydon knew organized crime was active in BC casinos, and completely failed to rein them in. Now he’s going to head a casino of his own?”

During the casino fight in 2011, 18 senior organized crime policing specialists submitted a letter which warned Vancouver City Council about rampant criminal activity of gangs and organized crime in casinos.
_______

Text media requests to:
Sandy Garossino 778-231-5230

See also:
Former Commander IIGET comments on casino oversight:
http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004373.html
http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004427.html
http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004907.html

Appendix A:

Excerpted quotes from 2009 IIGET report on criminal activity in casinos (p 22):

“Canadian casinos are extremely vulnerable to money-laundering because they deal in cash and handle tens of millions of dollars every day.

Many investigations… have shown that members of organized crime use casinos for criminal purposes (e.g. loan sharking and money laundering) and that some of these criminal elements have successfully infiltrated the industry.

Since 2003 FINTRAC has sent several disclosure reports to the RCMP on suspicious transactions involving casinos… Anecdotally, police managers have suggested… nothing is being done to investigate these situations.”

(emphasis added)

Vancouver Not Vegas Calls on Province to Block Graydon Appointment

Vancouver Not Vegas Calls on Province to Block Graydon Appointment

Michael Graydon BCLC

Vancouver Not Vegas calls for the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) to refuse to recognize Michael Graydon as a qualified officer of the newly formed PV Hospitality ULC, due to the public perception that Mr. Graydon may have violated the Conflict of Interest Guidelines of the BC Lottery Corporation, and due to his possession of sensitive confidential information pertaining to Paragon’s competitors.

Further, Vancouver Not Vegas calls for the City of Vancouver to attach a restrictive covenant to the property’s Development Permit, permanently limiting the number of slots and gaming tables on the new Edgewater Casino site.

Finally, VNV calls for the BC Lottery Corporation to publicly disclose all financial projections and public subsidies associated with the proposed Edgewater Casino expansion at BC Place.

“Public trust and confidence in the integrity of the BC Lottery Corporation is at stake,” says VNV member Ian Pitfield.  “The corporation’s own Conflict of Interest Guidelines enjoin management from conduct which raises the perception of conflict. These rules are meaningless if there are no post-employment consequences for violations.”

“The City must respond to Mr. Graydon’s actions. Paragon  is building a casino that’s oversized by some 40,000 square feet, and the BCLC governs the number of slots and table licenses that will go there.” says VNV spokesperson Sandy Garossino. “Mr. Graydon’s defection raises grave concerns about his neutrality while at BCLC, and what promises may have been made to Paragon.”

According to previous financial projections associated with an expanded Edgewater Casino, the BC Lottery Corporation was scheduled to transfer $16.9 million annually to Paragon Gaming to off-set construction costs.  PavCo has re-negotiated a 50% lease reduction to $3 million annually. No projections of increased revenues (net of revenue losses to other local casinos) to the BCLC have been made public.

BCLC Conflict of Interest Guidelines
http://corporate.bclc.com/content/dam/bclc/corporate/documents/soebc-for-employees.pdf

Gaming Control Act:
http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/00_02014_01

Deloitte report showing $16.9 m in construction subsidy: http://vancouvernotvegas.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Deloittes-Economic-Report-Entertainment-Complex.pdf  P. 8

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Media contacts:

Sandy Garossino
Please TEXT queries to:
778-231-5230

Ian Pitfield
604-828-5494

Brazen Conflict of Interest by Former CEO Exposes Feeble Governance at BCLC

Michael Graydon BCLC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vancouver, Feb. 7, 2014

Brazen Conflict of Interest by Former CEO Exposes Feeble Governance at BCLC

The resignation of Michael Graydon as CEO of BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) to assume the role of president of PV Hospitality ULC in which Paragon Gaming Corporation is a partner raises serious conflict of interest and BCLC governance concerns says Vancouver Not Vegas.

“It’s a grave concern that the BCLC, which oversees an industry requiring the highest standard of integrity and transparency, would permit a departure of this kind from expected ethical standards”, says founding member Ian Pitfield.

“The Federal Government applies post-employment restrictions to public office holders.  Why should the Province not insist on the same restrictions for senior employees of Crown Corporations?” Pitfield asks.

The Vancouver Not Vegas coalition calls for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding this move, and asks the BC government to answer the following questions regarding this and other governance issues within BCLC (BC Lottery Corp):

  • When did Michael Graydon begin employment discussions with Paragon, a company of which he was the regulator?
  • What assurances or commitments did he make to Paragon, his future employer, while he was in discussions with them concerning compensation, terms, etc?
  • What knowledge did the BCLC have of employment discussions between Graydon and Paragon, and did it approve it?
  • Why, after BCLC chair Richard Turner bought shares in Paragon Gaming in 2004, did the BCLC not institute a firewall policy preventing employment or financial relationships between senior executives. board members and regulated corporations?
  • Senior management at BCLC are in possession of significant confidential financial information pertaining to all gambling operators in BC. It’s unthinkable that it has failed to safeguard that trust by preventing conflicting employment agreements for senior executives.

It is unthinkable that BCLC has failed to safeguard the trust by prohibiting key employees from assuming employment with regulated gaming companies for a period of two or three years following retirement or resignation. But today’s news is only one chapter in a history of governance breakdowns.

Documented lapses in governance at BCLC include:

  • Unprecedented $700K FINTRAC fine in 2010
  • Documented loan-sharking, money-laundering in casinos
  • BCLC Chair Richard Turner’s acquisition of shares in Paragon in 2004, and subsequent move to become director.

Today’s revelation, combined with a repeated pattern of inept governance points to a rudderless corporation unable to exercise basic control over its key operations.

– 30 –

Media contacts:

Sandy Garossino
Please TEXT queries to:
778-231-5230

Ian Pitfield
604-828-5494

http://vancouvernotvegas.ca
See also this original story.

VNV responds to renewed plans for massive downtown Vancouver casino

Sept 24, 2013

Full text of our statement today in response to Paragon Gaming’s announcement of renewed plans to build a massive casino “resort” in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver Not Vegas responds to Paragon Gaming announcement 
September 24, 2013

In 2011 Vancouverites united and spoke with one voice that we don’t want a mega-casino in our city.  This is not who we are, nor the values we want to project about our city.  We do not choose to offload the cost of government onto the weak and the vulnerable. And we’re not alone. Cities across Canada are telling governments they’ve had it with the relentless attempt to force gambling into our communities.

Yet despite a resounding 11-0 vote in Vancouver City Council that rejected the proposal, here we are again.

Yet again there has been no transparency, no disclosure, no public consultation of a massive casino project.  Yet again a glamourous shiny announcement of a half-billion dollar project is foisted on the public with few details.

The most important feature of the Paragon announcement is the information still being withheld from the public.

  1. No disclosure of the planned casino floor space. Vancouver City Council, with no public debate on this key point, approved a rezoning of over 2.5 acres of casino floor space for this site—that’s over 2 NFL football fields.
  2. No disclosure of the very significant public subsidies going into the construction and maintenance of the development.  Does the BC Lottery Corporation facility development contribution remain at $16.9 million annually, as outlined in the Deloitte Report issued in 2010?
  3. No disclosure of the public subsidy in the form of the 50% lease discount negotiated with PavCo.  These lands were supposed to help pay for the stadium roof.  Now the lease won’t even pay the interest on the debt.

This is a terrible deal for both the City of Vancouver and the Province of BC.  If Edgewater cannot expand its slot machines and gaming tables, it’s a business certainty that revenues to the province and the city will fall, because Edgewater’s expenses are about to rise precipitously.  There are no independent pro formas detailing projected earnings. It’s vital to remember that the Edgewater Casino has never met the original revenue promises it made to the city upon which its original license was granted.

End to end, this is a money losing proposition that will only add to the millions of dollars the public loses annually in the operation of BC Place.

Vancouver Not Vegas has filed a petition in BC Supreme Court contesting the relocation.

Statement by Sandy Garossino on behalf of VNV
Text queries to 778-231-5230

Addendum:

Video via here.

Vancouver Not Vegas Submission to the Development Permit Board

vancouver-not-vegas

Vancouver Not Vegas Submission to the Development Permit Board
July 15, 2013

Vancouver Not Vegas is a coalition of citizens and community groups advocating for a healthy urban environment, and concerned about the proliferation of casinos in Vancouver.

Paragon Gaming, the BC Lottery Corporation and PavCo have a history of failing to disclose material facts and circumstances to the public, including the status of signed agreements and the existence of independent revenue projections that conflict with inflated numbers provided to City officials and the public.

Our position respecting today’s application is to take no position, but to state on the record that

1.  Vancouver Not Vegas objects to the lack of transparency and public disclosure surrounding future plans for the Edgewater Casino. Under the Gaming Control Act, the public is entitled to full notice of all material circumstances surrounding proposed casinos, yet the public knows nothing at all about what will transpire;

2.  To comply with the Gaming Control legislation, it will be necessary for Paragon Gaming’s relocation to BC Place to return to City Council for public hearings. To date:

•  No plans or drawings for the site have been publicly disclosed,
•  No net revenue projections nor host city revenue impact has been disclosed or independently verified;
•  There has been no disclosure of public subsidies in the form of lease forgiveness, construction subsidies or environmental remediation to be born by the BC taxpayer.

3.  As gaming revenues in the new location will not substantially increase, but construction and operation costs will, it is probable that the proposed relocation of Edgewater Casino will result in decreased revenue to the City and provincial government, unless it is significantly altered.

4.  It is reported that Paragon is in discussions with other gaming providers. What is the subject of those discussions—ie, is Paragon looking to sell its interest, or is it in discussions to expand its gaming capacity in some form of amalgamation or joint venture that materially alters the proposed development?

Before the City exercises its discretion in favour of the applicant’s request for an extension of its gambling permit, we ask for Paragon to publicly disclose the nature of its discussions with other gaming interests, and to commit to limiting its intended licenses to those already approved for the site, i.e. 500 slot machines and 65 gaming tables.

Media contact:
Sandy Garossino
Please text queries to:
778-231-5230

Vancouver Not Vegas! Co-founder Launches Petition to Halt Casino Move to BC Place

Vancouver Not Vegas Co-Founder Lindsay Brown has filled a petition in BC Supreme Court seeking to overturn the decision by Vancouver City Council approving the relocation of Edgewater Casino to BC Place Stadium.

“To this day the people of Vancouver still have no idea of what is being planned for the casino development on the BC Place Stadium site, yet Council has essentially written Paragon and PavCo a blank cheque by approving the relocation,” says Vancouver Not Vegas co-founder Lindsay Brown.” Once again plans are being made behind closed doors at City Hall, apparently to be dropped on the public when it’s too late for us to have a voice, but this time Council has granted its approval in advance. The BC Place site is a Vancouver landmark affecting thousands of residents, and we don’t know what’s happening there. We need to be part of the discussion this time around – if there is a “this time around.” ”

“Council consistently treated this application as a re-zoning matter, and has not recognized the requirements of provincial legislation governing decisions around gaming licenses,” adds retired justice Ian Pitfield, a coalition supporter. “The community was not provided with any particulars of the relocation proposal. It was only told about an expansion.”

During the public hearings in the spring of 2011, Paragon Gaming, the owners of Edgewater Casino, strongly stated that relocation without an expansion of their license was not an acceptable solution, and offered no amended plan for the public or Council to review. Council voted to approve only the relocation of the Edgewater Casino against the applicant’s wishes and without public consultation respecting any revisions. The City has not complied with the Gaming Control Act and Regulations.

________________________________

Note: Letters sent from Ian Pitfield to City Hall and to the Minister responsible for Gaming beginning in late May 2011 have remained unanswered or have elicited only uninformative replies.

Vancouver Not Vegas now awaits a response from City Council regarding our petition. We are very pleased by Vision Vancouver/COPE’s promise of a moratorium on gaming expansion in Vancouver, however the question of PavCo’s intentions for the BC Place Stadium site remains urgent.

Letter from retired judge Ian Pitfield


Retired BC judge Ian Pitfield

PavCo boss needs to get casino facts straight

Re: “More facts than fiction needed in gambling debate” – Podium op/ed from BC Pavilion Corp. CEO Warren Buckley – issue 1116; March 15-21)

Warren Buckley seems to have difficulty differentiating between fiction and fact.

He says that “at 110,000 square feet the casino is about the size of a single football field.” The city planning report calls for a casino of up to 114,000 square feet. A quick Google search of football-field dimensions yields the answer of 57,600 square feet – roughly half the size of the proposed casino. While that is the American football field, the comparable Canadian playing surface is 64,350 square feet, excluding the end zones. Whatever dimensions are used, the fact is that at 114,000 square feet, the casino would be 2.62 acres. It’s certainly not “about the size” of one football field.

One can have about as much confidence in Mr. Buckley’s calculation as one can have in his statement that the City of Vancouver will derive $23 million annually from the operation of the proposed casino-hotel complex. Approximately $6.3 million is already earned from the existing Edgewater Casino. Another $6 million will come from property taxes.

Neither PavCo nor the BC Lottery Corp. (BCLC) acknowledges that property tax will be payable, however the proposed site is developed. The real increase in revenue to the city would then be a maximum of $11 to $12 million. For many reasons that estimate is more likely fiction than fact.

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