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Vancouver's casino revenues lag behind neighbours

BOB MACKIN, QMI AGENCY

Is the Paragon Gaming proposal to move and expand Edgewater Casino an offer Vancouver city council can't refuse?

Figures in the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch's annual report through March 31 -- which wasn't published until early January -- show that Vancouver lags behind Richmond, Burnaby and Coquitlam in host municipality gross casino royalties.

Richmond took in $11.659 million from Great Canadian Gaming's flagship River Rock Casino Resort. Gateway Casinos' Burnaby location delivered $10.274 million to Burnaby city hall, while the Great Canadian Boulevard Casino was worth $8.810 million to Coquitlam.

Vancouver counted $6.266 million from Edgewater and $1.356 million from Hastings Racecourse.

When the 2010 figures are released, they are likely to show decreases. Hastings was closed during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Edgewater suffered a substantial decrease in gamblers because of Games-time parking, transportation and security restrictions.

City hall expects $17 million in annual revenue should Paragon get civic approval to build a casino and hotel complex connected to B.C. Place Stadium. However, Vancouver Not Vegas coalition spokeswoman Sandy Garossino said the estimate is misleading because it doesn't contemplate the cost of policing.

City council will hear both sides at a Monday public hearing. An additional hearing is scheduled for March 7.

"I'm confident and hopeful that city council will see the economic value that this represents, it's just a relocation with an expansion of gaming," said B.C. Lottery Corporation CEO Michael Graydon.