Tag Archives: casino

Message from Sandy, Lindsay, Ian & VNV to supporters following the Development Board hearing

Vancouver DPB

Message from Sandy, Lindsay, Ian & VNV to supporters following the Development Board hearing on December 16, 2013

Many among us felt enormous disappointment at the conditional approval of the preliminary development permit on December 16.

The applicants have approval to proceed contingent upon developing a harm reduction plan in consultation with the Vancouver Coastal Health chief medical officer, with reference to the Kendall report, Lower the Stakes.

The down-side is that a massive casino floor has been approved, despite very strong community objection.  This is extremely troubling. In November 2011 Council re-zoned the BC Place site to permit a casino. For reasons that are obscure, rezoning was permitted for the square footage requested in the original proposal–or 114,000 square feet–notwithstanding that Council rejected additional slot machines.

Industry standard for a purpose-built casino is roughly 52 square feet per slot machine, or about 31,000 square feet for Edgewater, so re-zoning to permit 114,000 sq. ft was an unusual step.

In any event, Paragon applied for and got approval for a 71,000 sf casino floor space–40,000 sq ft larger than necessary.

Given the cost of land and cost of construction in downtown Vancouver, it’s not credible that an experienced commercial real estate partner would commit half a billion dollars to a project that’s more than 100% overbuilt.

In our view someone with authority has committed to these investors that more slots WILL be permitted, and that is most likely the provincial government, which always has the power to amend the legislation requiring municipal approval for additional slots.

Since we assume the provincial government will pursue more slots, while Vancouver City Council is in principal steadfastly opposed (and 2014 is an election year), our focus is firmly on those aspects of this development which fall under exclusive municipal jurisdiction.

We are encouraged by the mayor’s statement on the morning following the DPB hearing that:

Given (the)  public concerns…which were raised at today’s Development Permit Board meeting, I will ask City staff to identify further measures to prevent any expansion of gambling in the future on this site, including  amendments to by-laws or the Northeast False Creek Official Development Plan that will restrict the allowable casino floor space to the existing proposal.

This measure opens the door for us to take a more aggressive position to curtail this development.  The Kendall Report, which chronicles an alarming increase in gambling addiction following the widespread introduction of slots in BC, has indeed been a game-changer for this project.

Our focus now shifts to two issues: pressing this Council to follow through with its commitment to permanently prevent expansion of the casino, and supporting strong and robust conclusions by the Vancouver Public Health Officer respecting harm reduction measures for the casino.

We will seek, among other steps:

•  A covenant by the applicant not to increase slots and tables as a condition of its final development permit
•  Restriction of operating hours
•  Implementation of Kendall recommendations respecting alcohol service and ATMs
•  Public health review of casino operations and data gathering methods

The Mayor’s statement is a tribute to your persuasive arguments. Your dedication, commitment, energy and support keep alive the possibility that this project will never materialize in the form sought by the applicants.

We’ll be in touch as events unfold.

Sandy Garossino, Lindsay Brown, Ian Pitfield


Q & A with a casino floor manager

Casino Q & A with Jason Feng, former floor manager with the River Rock Casino. Feng has over 20 years experience with the casino industry.

Q.  What if any training do staff undergo to assess if someone has a gambling problem?  Eg. If you take a look at the Serving It Right, there are detailed criteria about responsible beverage service, developing and supporting policies that prevent intoxication, handling situations that require intervention, etc.  Is there any comparable training you are aware of in BC casinos, and do you know of any other jurisdictions that pursue a “responsibility” program of any kind?

A: All staff at GCC go through training on assessing gambling problems similar to Serving it Right (which they also have to complete), called ART (Applied Response Training). Dealers and supervisors complete Level 1 and management has an additional Level 2 and or 3 module. I don’t know about other jurisdictions but I assume they would have something similar.

Q: Speaking of the couple involved in the recent Richmond murder suicide, you said that in retrospect you realize they showed signs of something amiss.  Accelerated play, more frequency, higher betting pattern.  In terms of management or staff, however, what would you or could you have done to intervene?

A: Part of ART training told us that ultimately it is their own money. If they were fighting or acted strangely then perhaps we could have said something. Other than increased amount played, they seemed pretty normal.  A person that drinks every day probably has a drinking problem. A person that gambles every day does not necessarily have a gambling problem, while somebody that gambles only once a week may have one.

Q: Are you saying that no matter what you can’t stop a customer from gambling
unless they are causing a disturbance or behaving in a way that would get them kicked out of any licensed premises?

A: That’s more or less true. A bar can cut off a customer because a number of things will eventually happen (passes out, starts swearing, or “you just know”). But with the policies in place, we (well I guess I have to say “they”) cannot stop somebody from gambling just because they are losing (or winning) or playing a lot. I mentioned before about people who have been there for an extended period of time, perhaps going to the hotel room for a quick nap then coming back down. It’s “their” money.

We do have people who have fallen asleep while playing on the table. The procedure is to wake them up and warn them once. After that it’s up to management to decide what happens if they doze off again.

Dominique Gross: Vancouver needs a new museum, not a casino

By Dominique Gross, Professor of Public Policy, SFU

Vancouver needs a new museum. Here is why a museum, not a casino, is the future:

The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain designed by Frank Gehry (a Canadian architect) has been attracting around 800,000 visitors per year since its opening, and 82% came EXCLUSIVELY for the museum.

The economic impact in 2001 was estimated around $150 million. It brought about 25 millions in taxes equivalent to about 4,415 jobs.

Visitors spent about $43 millions in accommodation, $35 millions in catering, $13 millions in shopping, $9.5 millions in transports and $6.6 million in leisure (numbers from Forbes).

The Bilbao museum is one of the top attractions in Spain.

The Bilbao museum cost about $190 millions in 2010 dollars ($100 millions to build in 1997 plus $20 millions endowment).

The Frank Gehry Guggenheim museum does not generate addiction that destroys individuals and their family.
The Frank Gehry Guggenheim museum does not support organised crime.
The Frank Gehry Guggenheim museum construction cost less than 1/2 of the planned casino.

Vancouver will not become a world class city with a giant casino. Who believes Nice (France), Las Vegas (US), Macao (China) are world class cities? Only those who encourage greed as a driver of human behaviour rather than culture and knowledge.

Dominique Gross is Professor at the School of Public Policy, Simon Fraser University. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Toronto and has also worked for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington , DC and the International Labour Office (ILO), in Geneva, where she had the opportunity to teach and develop economic research programmes in several Sub-Sahara African countries.

In her research, she specializes in applied international labour and finance macroeconomic questions. She is particularly interested in the relationship between domestic policies and international immigrant and foreign investment location decisions. The main geographical focuses of her research are Europe and North America. She has published in academic journals, in edited books as well as produced policy studies with an international perspective for the CD Howe Institute in Toronto , the ILO, the IMF and the World Bank.

Facts – History of the casino issue at City Hall

These are the facts: Whatever Premier Campbell has said, whatever PavCo has said, an expanded casino at B.C. Place stadium has never been discussed or approved by Vancouver City Council.

The current City Council agreed on Oct. 22, 2009 that a casino was an approved use at B.C. Place (there’s already one across the street). BUT nowhere in the Oct. 22/09 policy statement was there any discussion about an expanded casino. The size of the casino was never debated.

The staff recommendation to amend the False Creek North Official Development Plan, approved at a Sept. 16, 2008 council meeting, made no mention of an expanded casino. Nor does the word “casino” appear anywhere in the minutes of the Sept. 16 meeting, or in the minutes of an Oct. 18 public hearing following it.

At the Oct. 18, 2008 meeting, in the heat of an election campaign, Council unanimously approved allowing “city- and region-serving cultural, recreational and institutional uses including consideration of the Vancouver Art Gallery as a use, generally as set out in Appendix A.”

Only in Appendix A do the words “expanded casino” appear, without any reference to the major policy change this entails, or definition of “expanded casino” or further discussion of this major change in city policy. The words in the appendix are: “Council may allow sub-area zonings to include other cultural and recreational facilities, including a major art gallery and a major casino that will also serve the city and region.”

Those zonings would have to be referred to a public hearing before becoming policy.

This in no way constitutes council approval for an expanded casino.

The Province’s editorial cartoon on the Edgewater casino plan

From The Province, March 3, 2011

Our coalition’s presentations to Vancouver City Council on gambling expansion, February 1

Today several members of our Vancouver Not Vegas! Coalition are speaking to Vancouver City Council on the topic of general gaming expansion in the City of Vancouver. The opportunity to speak to Council has come as a result of a motion by Councillor Ellen Woodsworth, calling for further examination of gaming practices in British Columbia before the City of Vancouver proceeds with allowing further gaming expansion within its jurisdiction.

Our coalition is speaking in support of Councillor Woodsworth’s motion.

For presentations by Amir Alibhai, Sean Bickerton and Tom Durrie, read on. For a longer presentation by Sandy Garossino, click here.

Amir Ali Alibhai

January 31, 2011
Dear Mayor and Council:

The Alliance for Arts and Culture encourages Mayor and Council to adopt the
motion, moved by Councillors Woodsworth and Cadman regarding Casino
Development in our City. We have also been asked to speak on behalf of the
BC Association for Charitable Gaming (BCACG), which has submitted a written
submission. Together our organizations represent over 6,500 member
organizations and individuals. Motion B.6 addresses growing concerns in
this City and Province that Gaming has been expanded in an unchecked manner
and operates in a non-transparent and potentially conflicted way. The huge
revenues generated through this aggressive expansion have been attained on
the backs of charities, non-profits, municipalities and communities across
this province. In spite of this increase in revenues, the amount of funds
provided to charities and non-profits has decreased! We estimate that the
recent loss of funds to Metro Vancouver arts and cultural organizations will
be about $4 Million annually!

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