Tag Archives: Paragon Gaming

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/
- 30 -
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

 

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

-30-

 

Media contacts:

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

Ian Pitfield
604-828-5494

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

vancouver-not-vegas

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.

When casinos roll into the red, by Glen Korstrom

When casinos roll into the red

Restructuring Gateway Casinos and Entertainment wiped out $1 billion in debt and provided the company with a $100 million capital infusion and a $500 million loan

By Glen Korstrom, Business in Vancouver magazine, April 5-11, 2011; issue 1119

Activists who oppose Paragon Gaming Inc.’s proposal to build Western Canada’s largest casino adjacent to BC Place frequently say their opposition stems from fear that the venture will collapse in debt.

They justify these fears by pointing to a jackpot of casino companies that have run into debt so deep massive restructuring was required. One of those deals was the largest acquisition of 2010 that did not involve a mining company.

As for Las Vegas-based Paragon, it has an option to lease taxpayer-owned land, subject to civic approval and $350 million in financing, so it can build a $450 million casino and hotel complex by 2013.

Its $6 million annual lease payments would help BC Pavilion Corp. (PavCo) pay for the $563 million renovation of BC Place.

Paragon president Scott Menke has refused to open his private company’s books to demonstrate fiscal strength. PavCo chairman David Podmore, however, told Business in Vancouver that he has seen Paragon’s books and that he believes the company is capable of meeting financial commitments.

Things don’t always work out so well for casino operators, however.

The largest non-mining acquisition of 2010 demonstrated that.

Burnaby’s Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd. morphed from being an income fund in 2007 to being owned by two shareholders: Crown and Macquarie Bank.

Continue reading

Nathan Edelson, Former Vancouver City Planner-Presentation to Council

Presentation to City Council Opposing Casino
Nathan Edelson
March 14, 2011

As some of you may recall, I am a former Vancouver City Planner.

Like former Councillors Ladner, Puil and Ford, I am not from Las Vegas; and I don’t support the proposed casino. I am also proud to be on the same side on this issue as many others with others with whom I have worked including Tom Durrie, Herb Barbolet and John Shayler as well as the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, on whose board I serve.

My reasons are simple:
1. The process doesn’t smell right
2. The stadium roof leaks money and doesn’t look right
3. Enabling addiction to gambling as a public policy doesn’t feel right

Process
Regarding the process, the media has reported that a number of former and current public officials have been working behind the scenes or, in some cases, directly for the casino and associated facilities. Whatever their past contributions to public service – and they are considerable – I believe those who have argued that these facilities should be public priorities may have lost their way. Some have strayed so far along the path toward conflict of interest that it is unclear as to whether they have broken the law or whether the law must be fixed.

• The design of the complex is too large and will further block rather than enhance the important linkages between the Downtown Eastside, including Chinatown, and False Creek.
• The stadium roof now litters our skyline – its design is disrespectful of 3 decades of careful work to protect public views
• The stadium and the roof cost more than $560M. That these funds were spent in advance of this public hearing is disrespectful of the City’s rezoning process.
• More importantly, this is a misallocation of public funds when:

– Hundreds of homeless live on our streets
–Thousands of our children are unsafe in schools that need seismic upgrading; and
–Tim Bits are served in the emergency rooms of our hospitals

The TEAM Council on which Marguerite Ford served in the 1970’s achieved greatness.
1. It had a clear vision of a city made up of liveable, inclusive and engaged communities.
2. It also had the courage to say NO to the freeways that many experts declared were both necessary and inevitable.

The result is what is recognized as one of the most liveable cities in the world, at least for most, if not all of us.

Should you decide that you have to approve this proposal, be careful to check every detail of the permits. I helped negotiate a Community Benefit Agreement with the original owners of Edgewater so that inner city residents would be given at least 10% of the new jobs.

Many of these were contracted through Cook Studio – a social enterprise that trained low income youth. It was contracted to do offsite catering and to operate the onsite restaurant. When Paragon took over ownership of Edgewater, they cancelled the contract. This contributed to Cook Studio going bankrupt and the loss of opportunity for dozens of young people who were taking their first steps out of poverty.

I think it is important for all of us to recognize that Edgewater has been a good employer. This is why so many of its workers have taken the time to speak on behalf of the company and the pride they have in their jobs.

However, I would ask you to question Paragon as to why so many of its current workers fear that unless the casino is expanded, they may lose their jobs. If the Casino – at its current size is relocated or the license is transferred to another company, Council can help protect their jobs as a condition of development or other permissions.

More than a decade ago, Mayor Philip Owen had to wisdom to understand that addiction to illegal drugs is a public health issue. It is time for us to understand that this is also true of Addiction to Gambling.

I would suggest a Four Pillar approach to reduce government’s Addiction to Gambling.

1. The first pillar is Prevention
On one side of the chips, show the high proportion of revenue that comes from the poor;
On the other side, show where the revenues actually go; and
On the large screens show the people driven into bankruptcy, their foreclosures, divorces and innocent children.
2. The second Pillar is Harm Reduction
Develop a policy of no increase in slot machines and tables; and
Gradually eliminate highly addictive internet gambling
3. Treatment is the third pillar
Create a fair taxation policy – so that governments have the resources to provide needed public services without relying on the proceeds of gambling.
4. The fourth pillar is Enforcement
•  Work with the Province to carry out a full public inquiry into all the events that led to the proposal before you this evening. This should include the circumstances under which Paragon took over ownership of Edgewater, the proposal for more than tripling the size of the casino, the public expenditures on stadium and the public engagement process.
•  Whether or not the inquiry reveals illegal activity has taken place, it should check to make sure that the laws regulating conflict of interest are clear and adequately reflect the public’s sense of right and wrong.
•  This will help public officials – both current and former – “To know their limit; and to stay within it.”

In my view, and those of many who have spoken and will speak before you, we need to recognize that the casino is like a freeway – a Social Freeway to Nowhere. Like the TEAM Council of the 1970’s, you have an opportunity to turn this proposal down and to have staff complete much needed planning for this area.

Finally, I think it is important that the roof – the roof that would be retractable – remain for decades to come.

Like the Georgia Viaduct before it, it should serve as a symbol for the path we chose not to take. A reminder that in the early part of this century – with all of its challenges – that Vancouver’s City Council chose to work with the senior governments to house our homeless, protect the lives of our children and become the Greenest, and the most liveable place on earth – not for most of us; but for all of us.

FOI Requests: PavCo’s Request for Expressions of Interest shows only 2 bidders

 

In short, what we learn from these is that the bid process for developing the property at B.C. Place Stadium was very short and yielded only 2 bidders – Concord and Paragon. Apologies for size. Each PDF is large – downloading may take a minute.

PavCo Request for Expressions of Interest – Part 1 (nearly 2 MB – if you want a clearer, larger copy, please email us)

PavCo Request for Expressions of Interest – Part 2 (caution: over 4 MB)

BC Place / Paragon Press Packet

Here is the most recent BCPlace/ParagonPressPacket. PDF – approx 1.5 MB.

It offers a full description of the planned complex. There are many questions raised by the plan: are all these new hotel rooms going to be subsidized by the casino? Vancouver already has a surfeit of hotel rooms — will these rooms undercut other hotels? And many more…

As an aside, we hardly need to point out that if you have to say you’re World Class”… you’re not.

Deloitte Report on the Edgewater mega-casino

Please feel free to peruse Deloitte’s Economic Report – Entertainment Complex for yourself. Please note that the report states that its projection figures were derived from Paragon Gaming itself. These figures do not appear to have been independently assessed. We welcome any and all expert opinion on this report – either comment below or send us an email.