The City of Vancouver Development Permit Board has approved a relocated Edgewater Casino.
The relocated casino will be 72,000 square feet, in new complex across the street from the existing Edgewater Casino site at the Plaza of Nations.
The number of slot machines and tables in the new facility will be the same: 600 slot machines and 75 tables.
Attached to the new casino will be two hotels, restaurants and commercial space.
About 80 people attended the hearing at City Hall today, with most of those people speaking out against the relocated casino.
Last month, B.C.’s chief health officer said the number of problem gamblers has doubled over the past decade.
Opponents were hoping to delay the decision, and were asking the city to wait for the provincial government to come up with a strategy to deal with problem gambling.
The city says they have put “tough conditions” on the casino move, saying it won’t go forward without a public health strategy that meets the standards of the Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall.
Access to alcohol and availability and number of ATMs at the casino will all be taken into consideration by the city.
Still, it was approved by the city.
Casino opponents say an future expansion is likely in the works.
“On a ratio of square footage to slot machines, it’s more than double the average of Atlantic City and Las Vegas slot machines,” says Sandy Garossino of the anti-gambling group Vancouver Not Vegas. “That makes no sense at all — obviously — the proponents have been assured in some fashion that more slots are on the way.”
Ross McCreadie, COO of 360 Vox, who is building the casino, says they are not asking for an increase in square footage.
“In 2011, we went through that process. If at any time in the future, if anyone would want to do that, they’d have to go through a new public consultation, they’d have to go through everything again, and that’s not something we are interested in.”
The city also says they will take steps to prevent any future expansion of the casino by amending the official community plan.
“Given these public concerns, many of which were raised at today’s Development Permit Board meeting, I will ask City staff to identify further measures to prevent any expansion of gambling in the future on this site, including amendments to by-laws or the Northeast False Creek Official Development Plan that will restrict the allowable casino floor space to the existing proposal,” reads a statement issued by the Mayor’s office Monday night.
Construction could begin as early as next year.