Edgewater Casino resurrection: Paragon re-pitches BC Place deal

Feeling lucky? Paragon Gaming and PavCo try again in Edgewater Casino expansion bid.

Site 10a
Site 10a: Paragon and PavCo want this place to be a casino.

Just a roll of the dice

After getting voted down unanimously in April 2011, Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming is taking another swing at developing BC Place into a casino complex.

Paragon Gaming and BC Pavilion Company (PavCo, a Crown corporation) originally tried to expand the existing Edgewater Casino, currently located at the Plaza of Nations, into what would have been Western Canada's largest casino.

As was the case before, details of the project remain nebulous and the public's input (since the giant public hearing with 140 intervenors that shut down the first bid) has yet to be sought; despite the fact that the proposed building site is public land.

Community advocate Sandy Garossino, a co-founder of the non-partisan group Vancouver Not Vegas, described the new plan as "a dog's breakfast".

"Why all the secrecy and obfuscation for a project that the Gaming Control Act says the public has to be fully informed on?" Garossino asked me.

Vancouver Not Vegas is moving to challenge the Paragon-PavCo lease deal in the BC Supreme Court. The group argues that there has been "no public disclosure or public hearing concerning the terms of the Edgewater Casino proposal contrary to the BC Gaming Control Act Regulation."

That Plaza of Nations lease is set to expire at the end of this month: Paragon has applied for a lease extension through 2016, which is when it hopes to open that still-hypothetical BC Place casino. This flies in the face of a claim by  BC Liberal MLA (and former PavCo chair) Peter Fassbender that PavCo had signed a 99-year lease with Paragon for Site 10a, that strip of land on the southwest end of BC Place.

"Extensive" public consultation?

As was the case with their previous attempt, Paragon Gaming and PavCo are presenting the new casino plan as if it's a done deal.

Paragon claims that the planning process surrounding Site 10a "has been extensive", but it has not been extensive enough to include public consultation. The gist of Vancouver Not Vegas' lawsuit is that the lack of public consultation violates Provincial gaming laws.

As was the case with the last go-round, Paragon and PavCo have released no details regarding their potential investment partners or, most pertinent to locals, the extent to which taxpayers will be on the hook.

Paragon had recently disclosed that it had recently signed a 70-year lease with PavCo, but lease does not equal casino. Bob Mackin of Business in Vancouver wrote,

Site 10a is the city hall designation for the taxpayer-owned parcel within the Northeast False Creek zone. The website was registered on June 19 and disclosed to Business in Vancouver on July 9.

Honey, I got no money, I'm all sixes and sevens and nines

The BC Lottery Commission (BCLC) is incentivized towards a casino due to the money that it will send to City Hall in the form of taxes. But on the downside, casinos are also vulnerable to money-laundering from the drug economy, as was mentioned by the CBC during Paragon's first go at the BC Place deal.

At any rate, it is indeed all about the Benjamins; or, in our case, the Bordens. PavCo wants the Edgewater Casino deal to happen because BC Place has to pay for that new $563 million roof.

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