News Local

Marriott on board for casino proposal

BOB MACKIN, QMI AGENCY

Paragon Gaming announced Marriott International Inc. as its hotel partner Monday. The announcement came the morning after the public hearing on the controversial B.C. Place casino proposal ended.

If Vancouver city council approves April 19, J.W. Marriott and Autograph Collection hotels will flank the new Edgewater Casino in 2013.

"I can see why they'd be trying to play on the brand of a hotel everyone's heard of," said Katherine Wellburn.

The Yaletown bankruptcy lawyer spoke against the proposal Saturday because of her experience dealing with gambling addicts who went broke after borrowing from family or resorting to loan sharks. She said neither the identity of the hotel operator nor a last-minute concession by B.C. Pavilion Corporation chairman David Podmore would soften her position.

Podmore told council Sunday night that Paragon is now willing to operate 1,200 slot machines for two years with an option to apply for 300 more.

"Maybe they never were going to have 1,500 slot machines, they were always going to have 1,200," Wellburn said. "As an opening bargaining strategy, asking for too many."

During the three-night, two-day hearing, 83 of 145 speakers were anti-casino. Of 1,849 letters received, 1,027 came from casino boosters. The April 19 decision will come, coincidentally, while PavCo hosts the 15th annual Canadian Gaming Summit at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

bob.mackin@sunmedia.ca