December 10, 2013 7:35 pm
Updated: December 10, 2013 11:45 pm

Casino opponents hope to halt construction of new Edgewater Casino in Vancouver

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Opponents of plans for a new Edgewater Casino next to BC Place are hoping a petition will cause the city to reconsider.

The group “Vancouver Not Vegas” has launched an online petition, asking the Development Permit Board to refer the casino application back to city council.

The board is set to consider the application on December 17, and construction could begin later this month.

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Vancouver Not Vegas spokesperson Sandy Garossino says we are now losing $217 million annually in health care costs due to gambling addiction.

“We want this proposal delayed and we want public health concerns addressed as the business project is developed.”

The group has also conducted public polling on gambling.

“79 per cent of the public wants to see the government institute harm reduction and addiction prevention strategies. 58 per cent of those polled want to see the casino kept to bar hours and not operating 24 hours a day,” says Garossino. “Hastings Park operates on bar hours and there seems to be a strong public opinion that this casino should too.”

Opponents cite the release of a report commissioned by the provincial government, which shows gambling addiction in B.C. is on the rise.

Although the Edgewater will be moving into a new building across the street from its current site, there will not be an increase in the number of slot machines and tables.

Garossino says the square footage of the new casino seems to suggest a future expansion.

“This new casino is approved for 114,000 square feet, and the plans for the new casino floor space are 72,000 square feet. They appear to be planning for a major increase somewhere down the road. This moratorium on slot machines and gambling tables only lasts as long as this current council wants it to last. Even before this application is completed, an application could come back for more slot machines.”

The City of Vancouver issued the following statement Tuesday night:

“Last month, Council directed staff to do a review of all gaming facilities in Vancouver to ensure they meet the highest public health standards, as laid out in an October report from BC’s Chief Medical Health Officer.

“I’ve been very clear that there will not be any expansion of gambling in the City of Vancouver while I am Mayor. In 2011, Council denied a proposal that sought to expand gambling. As part of the Edgewater Casino project, we wrote into our bylaws a cap on the number of slots and tables that could be allowed at the new site. This prevents any form of gambling expansion at this site in the future, and any attempt to do so would require a rezoning – which I will never support.”

– Mayor Gregor Robertson

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