By Colin Miles, The ProvinceDecember 15, 2013
We thought it was dead, but the B.C. Place casino has risen from the grave and it's terrifying.
In The Province Oct. 17, Dr. Perry Kendall, B.C.'s chief medical officer, reported that there are 159,000 problem gamblers in the province. It's part of a worsening trend. Between 2002 and 2007 the number of severe problem gamblers ballooned to 31,000 people from 13,000.
Since that Province report, the media have stopped covering the story. We read nothing about the ongoing casino project approval and its lack of transparency. Is the casino simply accepted as a done deal not worthy of journalistic scrutiny? After vigorous public hearings, Vancouver city council unanimously rejected the casino back on April 19, 2011. But ever since, the Las Vegas owners, PavCo, and the Clark Government have put the squeeze on council. A new development permit hearing will be held behind closed doors on Dec 16.
The original proposal called for casino revenues to pay for the cost of the B.C. Place renovation.
Incredibly, the new version has the casino receiving 50 per cent forgiveness of lease for 70 years and the B.C. Lottery Corp. will provide a $16.9-million annual subsidy.
The revenue will not even cover the interest on the loan. This will be an economic disaster for everybody - except Las Vegas gambling interests.
Vegas knows that "the house never loses."
Why are we allowing a Las Vegas corporation and the provincial government to impose this on our city?