“Destination casino” – that’s how the BC provincial government and Vegas gambling corporation Paragon Gaming plan have designated the proposed new Edgewater complex. What does this mean? It means that the casino complex intends to reach its projected revenues, the casino would have to attract significant gambling tourism, not just locals. In the case of the Edgewater Casino, a large fraction of the the targeted market is supposedly wealthy gamblers from China. There are a number of troubling issues associated with destination casinos, and we’ll deal with those at the end, but the first question we are asking here is this: has the BC government really thought out whether this “destination casino” can really do what it says it can and attract these gamblers? Because it’s very unlikely that it can deliver. Consider just one of many competing mega-casinos:
Singapore, which is a world leader in planning and which very carefully designed its casino industry to market almost exclusively to tourists and very wealthy clientele;
Singapore, which has almost the lowest crime rate in the world, strict and well-funded policing and zero tolerance for gang activity;
Singapore, which wants the Asian/Chinese high-roller gambling dollars that we naively think we can compete with them for;
Singapore,which is only a short, low-cost flight away from Hong Kong or China.
And when you get to Singapore, you get this:
Do BC and Vancouver really think we are going to induce the Chinese big spender to come halfway around the world to be impressed by this?:
Now, let’s look at other issues associated with mega-casinos.
What we sometimes hear from our elected public officials on this topic goes like this: “oh, the new casino isn’t in a residential area, and lots of cities have them.”
Ask the False Creek Residents Association whether or not they agree that this is not a residential area! And this district is extremely close to both Yaletown (2 minute walk away) and Gastown, not to mention Strathcona, only a 10 minute walk away—and with the Prior/Venables artery, gamblers and loan sharks will be passing right through the neighbourhood daily.
Furthermore, do other cities really put mega-casinos in their downtown core?
No, they don’t. Chicago, for example. Their “downtown” casino? It’s 20 minutes outside of Chicago downtown, very like our current River Rock Casino in Richmond. Singapore’s casinos charge $80 for locals to enter, and they have one at their huge major resort downtown that is very far from any residential area. The other is on an island 10 miles from the city. Everything is strictly designed for tourism, not local gambling.
Montreal’s casino is on the Expo island–again away from the city residential heart, as is the casino in Edmonton. NO cities except declining poverty traps like Detroit have allowed this.
This is not normal urban planning. We are not even approaching the frontier of “urban planning” here. After the decades and tens of millions of dollars that have gone into making Vancouver the most livable city in the world, are twe are going to plop Las Vegas into it? And for what? So that our rich and corporations can have the lowest taxes anywhere? And on that topic, what has that done for us lately? Where are the waves of major corporate head offices coming our way because of the low taxes? Non-existent.
Vancouver! You—City Council as well as Vancouver citizens— must stand up and defy the province on this one.