Vancouver city council rejected plans for a mega-casino at BC Place citing concerns over money laundering, criminality and addiction as the reasons behind the denial. The council voted unanimously to abandon controversial expansion plans for the Edgewater Casino complex. British Columbia New Democrat Party (NDP) sees the council’s decision as indictment of the provincial government’s gambling policies in regards to both land-based and online casinos in Canada.
Shane Simpson, NDP’s social development critic commented the decision “The city has reinforced the position that we have taken as the Opposition, that the [B.C.] Lottery Corporation’s practices around key issues like problem gambling, money laundering, money to charities just isn’t being done in an acceptable way.”
The project was proposed by Paragon Gaming Co., based in Las Vegas. The casino would have been the biggest in Western Canada, a major tourist attraction creating thousands of jobs, built under the provisions of national Canadian gambling laws. The complex was expected to host restaurants, shops and two hotels with over 500 rooms. The proposed location was to be the north False Creek property, between Cambie Bridge and BC Place.
Among those opposing the casino was a coalition of community groups as well as retired law enforcement officers, who sent an open letter to the city council objecting to the casino. The open letter expressed concern over the potential rise in gambling addiction and dangerous criminal activity that the mega-casino would bring.
Advocates of the planned casino spoke about thousands of new jobs that casino would have created and millions of dollars in revenues for many years to come, with over half of the money going straight into provincial government’s coffers.