May 15, 2024 3 min read

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Vancouver Council Eases Restrictions on Casino Expansions

The recent decision permits new applications from the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) to add more slot machines and gaming tables at current venues

In a recent vote, Vancouver’s ABC party has decided to change the city’s strict moratorium on gambling expansions. The amendment was passed despite opposition from health officials and calls for more public consultation.

ABC Councilors Approve Increase in Casino Slot Machines

The recent ruling allows new applications from the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC), which can increase the number of slot machines and gaming tables at existing venues such as the Parq Casino and Hastings Racecourseb, reported CTV News Vancouver. However, the amendment does not allow the construction of new casinos.

ABC councilors Mike Klassen, Lisa Dominato, Rebecca Bligh, Peter Meiszner, and Lenny Zhou voted in favor of the staff recommendation to relax the restrictions on gambling.

Peter Meiszner noted that the proposal is very modest. He underscored that it just allows the addition of machines within the currently operating casinos and not expanding or building new facilities.

Still, the decision was not passed with a unanimous vote. ABC councilor Sarah Kirby-Yung opposed the proposal citing significant reservations. She noted that according to the staff report, which was initiated by the BCLC, an increase of $5 million is expected in Vancouver’s annual gambling revenue. 

Kirby-Yung further argued that these financial projections unveil that the proposal has far more significance than it appears to, which in turn means that there will be a considerable increase in gambling activities in the city.

Health Officer Warns of Gambling Risks as Council Approves Expansion

Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, Vancouver’s medical health officer, was also among the people who strongly opposed the amendment due to concerns about increased harm.  He highlighted that gambling disorders can lead to severe problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, and financial difficulties. 

Dr. Lysyshyn also reminded lawmakers that gambling addiction is recognized as a mental illness. He emphasized that even a small percentage of gamblers developing addictions could have far-reaching negative effects on families and communities.

OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle and Green councilors Adriane Carr and Pete Fry also voted against the proposal. Fry expressed criticism as there was no comprehensive public consultation and questioned whether the amendment of the 2011 moratorium was legal. 

On the other hand, Adriane Carr called for more extensive public engagement, noting that the original moratorium followed eight days and nights of public hearings.

BCLC representative Lara Gerrits defended the proposal saying that expansion is necessary. She pointed out that the city’s population has grown by 20% since the moratorium was put in place. She noted that the current gambling facilities often reach capacity, especially after major events. Gerrits also mentioned that 67% of gambling spending by Vancouver residents currently goes to other Lower Mainland facilities.The amended moratorium allows the council to assess each application individually, with input from Vancouver Coastal Health and the Vancouver Police Department. The police reported no specific concerns about the amendment during the council meeting.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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