Recent actions by The City of North Vancouver hint at the possibility of a casino, or “community gaming centre”, coming to the Lower Lonsdale’s Shipyards District.
For 20 years, the City has prohibited gambling within its borders, but the results of a City Council vote on Monday night mean slot machines might get the green light soon. The Council voted 5-2 to send the issue of gambling prohibition to the City’s policy committee for further debate.
The question of gambling in North Vancouver arose in late 2013 with a request from Playtime Gaming to lift the ban and allow them to build a facility with slot machines in the developing Shipyards District.
According to the North Shore News, Playtime Gaming’s 2013 proposal included “restaurants, boutique retail, an expansion of the Pinnacle Hotel, underground parking, a public theatre, skating rink or water feature, and about 40-per cent green space and public areas along with an area that includes slot machines in order to make the rest of the project financially viable.”
The paper is now reporting the company might get what they are looking for.
A major part of the council’s decision will include debate on the socio-economic effects of gaming, community interest and the economic rejuvenation the project may or may not provide.
Former North Van District Mayor and current Councillor Don Bell told the North Shore News there are many questions worth pursuing.
“What are the economic benefits? Are they real? It sounds good but what really comes through? I don’t think that’s the only consideration but I think that’s something we should be looking at in the interests of our community where we’re looking for potential revenue sources. We need to find out is there a social downside? Is there a criminal downside to this?”
Mayor Darrell Mussatto supports the proposal going forward, citing the economic benefits local programs receive from gaming grants. According to campaign financing disclosure documents, the Director of Playtime Gaming, Tom Nellis, donated more than $11,000 to Mussatto’s latest election campaign.
Playtime Gaming currently operates six community gaming centres in British Columbia, including one in Abbotsford and Langley. Community gaming centres differ from traditional casinos because they only offer electronic gaming stations, such as slot machines and electronic blackjack.
The land on which Playtime Gaming proposed to build their facility is classified as Lot 5 in the Waterfront Development Project, according to official City documents. The City of North Vancouver currently has possession of the 110,000 sq. ft. site, holding it for the development of a “regional attraction”.