Live blogging the casino public hearing at City Council, Day 3

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7:48 -- Stevenson talks about the dangers of money-laundering. Lemcke says the police will "set the tone early" and make sure that crime doesn't happen. 


7:45 -- Jang asks how often high-profile crimes (gang-related) happen in casinos. Lemcke says Edgewater wasn't so much a venue for such crimes, that night clubs were more of an issue. Jang asks if VPD would have to hire more officers after expansion. VPD says casino right now does not impact police. Lemcke says it may all happen, but it's possible that additional police resources will be needed, saying this happened in Windsor. He says, "We're going to be quite vocal in saying we need more people to police this." He talks about this not being about the casino, but the "entire package" -- the hotels, the presence of alcohol. 


7:43 -- Woodsworth asks why there is a paucity of information around gambling. Lemcke says that it's difficult with domestic issues around gambling. Woodsworth asks if this information isn't easy to gather, Lemcke says no, as it requires a "big change in our data system". Woodworth asks why not. 


7:40 -- Woodsworth asks if VPD goes regularly into horserace tracks to monitor gambling. Lemcke says at Edgewater, 70 times per year. $8,500 per year. He says this does not include the routine check-ups. Woodsworth asks him to "guesstimate" the regular walkthrough. He says on the weekend, 1 or 2 times a night.  


7:32 -- Cadman asks VPD Deputy Chief Warren Lemcke who does the day-to-day policing with casinos. Lemcke says there is a lot of back-and-forth between casino security and VPD. He says if something suspicious was going on, someone from casino security would have to give police a call. On the topic of money laundering, Cadman asks how many times VPD has received a call about "large bags of cash" being carried around in casinos, Lemcke responds, "zero." 


7:30 -- Deal reminds Robertson that the Vancouver Police Department is here to answer questions about policing issues with an expanded casino. 

7:30 -- Anton has another question for Carsley, but Robertson cuts her off, saying she's over her 5 minutes, and that there are 200 speakres to get through. Cheers from the back.

7:24 -- Anton asks about online gambling: Carsley responds that this is a very recent development, so he does not have many statistics for this. 

7:20 -- Cadman asks Carsley to clarify that First Nations, youth (18-34), people with mental health problems and low-income people make up a disproportionately large portion of problem gamblers. He asks what the social costs of this would be. 

7:15 -- Kerry Jang asks, if population in BC increases, will the number of problem gamblers grow? Carsley says yes. Jang asks about the "adaption model", Carsley explains that as gambling has become more liberalized, the number of problem gamblers will increase. But at some point, that level will plateau and may even decrease. Jang notes the 0.4 - 0.9 increase in problem gambling and asks if that is a significant increase. Carsley reiterates the difficulty in finding conclusive data. 

7:10 -- Ellen Woodsworth quotes University of Lethbridge studies citing revenue from problem gamblers as over 30% of total revenue, saying she would like to know the percentage of revenue from addicted gamblers. She also notes that a relatively small amount of money is used for assisting problem gambers. Carsley responds that they are more interested in a larger portion of government revenue being used for prevention.

Woodsworth asks, "Is the ultimate prevention not expanding?" Carsley says he can't answer about that. 


7:05 -- Stevenson asks Carsley why there wasn't opposition back in 2004, Carsley mentions that he wasn't here back then, that that concern for problem gambling has gone up since then. "Some of us wish you had been here in 2004", Stevenson comments, referring to the Edgewater casino opening. 

Carsley says in any case, it is always very difficult to track problem gambling in this field, where things are always changing. 

7:00 -- Reimer asks about how Chinese population is hard to track for problem gambling. Dr. Carsley specifies that ethnic Chinese people are difficult to track for problem gambling, Reimer says this is worrisome given the large size of that population.


6:50 -- Dr. John Carsley begins a presentation on problem gambling in BC. Moderate problem gamblers are 104,000-152,000. Severe - 19,000-43,000. He says it's very hard to assess the number of severe problem gamblers in BC, but says according to a 2007 study, severe problem gambling is between 0.5 and 1.5% in most places. He says the best explanatory model for problem gambling is unknown, but says it is likely a combination of "exposure" (to gambling venues) and "adaptation".

6:45 -- Public hearing starts. Drs John Carsley and Patricia Daly from Vancouver Coastal Health will appear again tonight, both speaking against the casino. 

Since the last hearing on March 8, 199 letters have been sent to City Council in opposition to the casino expansion, compared to 320 letters supporting the casino.


6:35 -- Councillors Meggs, Kerry Jang, Suzanne Anton, Ellen Woodsworth, David Cadman are here, still waiting for others. 

6:20 -- List of speakers is now at 202. Unlike last Tuesday, Edgewater employees wearing yellow T-shirts have taken up most of the seats at the hearing. 

Before the doors opened, a Edgewater casino employee said that although councillors asked tough questions at the previous hearings, it was okay because "they were just doing their jobs, and keeping their constituents happy." 

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