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Vancouver Council Approves Expansion of Casino Slot Machines

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Recently, the ABC councilors approved a ruling that permits new applications from the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC) to increase the number of slot machines and gaming tables at existing venues like the Parq Casino and Hastings Racecourse. This ruling, as reported by CTV News Vancouver, does not, however, allow for the construction of new casinos.

Among the councilors, Mike Klassen, Lisa Dominato, Rebecca Bligh, Peter Meiszner, and Lenny Zhou supported the staff recommendation to relax gambling restrictions. Peter Meiszner highlighted that the proposal is modest, only permitting the addition of machines within currently operating casinos, not the expansion or creation of new facilities.

The decision was not unanimous, with ABC councilor Sarah Kirby-Yung opposing the proposal. Kirby-Yung raised concerns based on the staff report initiated by the BCLC, which projects a $5 million increase in Vancouver’s annual gambling revenue. She argued that this significant financial forecast implies a substantial increase in gambling activities in the city.

About Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, is a vibrant, multicultural city known for its stunning natural landscapes, diverse neighborhoods, and thriving arts scene. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains, Vancouver offers residents and visitors a mix of urban sophistication and outdoor adventure. The city’s economy is robust, driven by industries such as technology, film production, tourism, and international trade through its port, the largest in Canada. Vancouver’s cultural fabric is enriched by its diverse population, with significant communities from around the globe, making it a cosmopolitan hub on the west coast of Canada.

Opposition to the Amendment

Vancouver’s medical health officer, Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, also strongly opposed the amendment. Dr. Lysyshyn emphasized the potential harms of increased gambling, including stress, anxiety, depression, and financial difficulties, and reminded lawmakers that gambling addiction is recognized as a mental illness. He pointed out that even a small increase in addiction rates could have significant negative impacts on families and communities.

Councilors from OneCity and the Green Party, including Christine Boyle, Adriane Carr, and Pete Fry, also voted against the proposal. Fry criticized the lack of comprehensive public consultation and questioned the legality of amending the 2011 moratorium. Carr called for more public engagement, noting that the original moratorium followed extensive public hearings.

Defending the proposal, BCLC representative Lara Gerrits argued that the expansion is necessary due to the city’s population growth, which has increased by 20% since the moratorium was implemented. Gerrits mentioned that current gambling facilities often reach capacity, especially after major events, and noted that 67% of gambling spending by Vancouver residents 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, which reported no specific concerns about the amendment during the council meeting.

They came from across the political spectrum, including dozens of churches, and especially Chinese churches that felt that their populations were being targeted. Business leaders, economists, organized crime and public health experts. There were thousands of people who joined the opposition the first time.

Gambling in Vancouver

Gambling activities in Vancouver are regulated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), a Crown corporation responsible for overseeing all gambling-related activities in the province. The city hosts several prominent casinos, including the Parq Vancouver, which features two luxury hotels, multiple restaurants, and a vast gaming floor, and the River Rock Casino Resort in nearby Richmond, known for its extensive gaming options and entertainment offerings. These establishments offer a range of gambling experiences, from slot machines and table games to poker rooms. Vancouver also supports various community gaming centers and charitable gaming events. The BCLC ensures that all gambling activities adhere to strict regulations to promote responsible gambling and generate revenue for public services and community programs.

The racial demographics of gamblers in Vancouver reflect the city’s multicultural population. Vancouver’s gambling scene includes participants from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. The city is also known for its significant Asian population.

Studies and reports reveal that the Asian community constitutes a significant portion of the gambling population in Vancouver. According to the 2014 British Columbia Problem Gambling Prevalence Study, cultural factors play a substantial role in the high participation rates among Asians in gambling activities. Specifically, the study noted that gambling is often viewed as a social activity within many Asian cultures, which helps explain its prevalence in these communities.

Moreover, another report from Psychology Today highlights that Asian gamblers, influenced by cultural beliefs in luck and fate, tend to engage more in gambling. This cultural inclination not only encourages participation but also poses challenges in seeking help when gambling becomes compulsive or addictive. The strong belief in fortune and the social nature of gambling in many Asian societies contribute significantly to the higher rates of gambling participation among Asian populations​.

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