Vancouver to consider easing rules on casino expansion

BCLC wants to expand Parq Vancouver and Hastings Racecourse

Vancouver City Council will consider a recommendation to relax the restrictions on expanding casinos in the city.

A staff report will be presented to council on May 8 that proposes loosening the moratorium on new or expanded gambling venues.

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation wants to expand gambling at the two casinos in the city, Parq Casino Vancouver and Hastings Racecourse and Casino. BCLC proposes adding more slot machines and table games.

Parq currently has 600 slot machines and 61 gambling table while Hastings holds 446 slot machines. The report did not clarify how many the lottery corporation is looking to add.

A BCLC spokesperson told Canadian Gaming Business that through its consultations with Vancouver on the state of the gaming market and the performance of the facilities, “an opportunity was identified to enhance the gambling mix” at both venues.

The moratorium was implemented in 2011, around the same time that the city rejected an application for a 1,500-slot casino on the Vancouver waterfront. It means the city cannot accept a direct application from BCLC to expand one of its casinos. The report recommends an amendment to allow councillors to approve or reject such proposals. Applications for new gambling venues would still be banned.

“This approach aims to ensure council decisions are informed by sufficient detail to assess the impacts of expanding gambling at existing facilities… while keeping other elements of the moratorium intact,” the report reads.

BCLC highlights increased revenue potential

B.C. regulations guarantee municipal governments 10% of net casino gaming revenue in their jurisdiction on an annual basis. Parq and Hastings contributed more than $7 million to the city in the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to financial disclosures in the report. Parq supplied more than $6 million of that.

BCLC forecasts that expansions to one or both of the venues could increase the government’s annual slice by somewhere between $2.6 million to $5 million.

“Like most cities, Vancouver has seen significant growth since the moratorium was approved in 2011, almost 15 years ago,” the BCLC spokesperson told Canadian Gaming Business. “Since then, the population has grown by an estimated 22% while the gambling mix in Vancouver has remain unchanged. Amending the moratorium would allow us to work with Vancouver city staff to look at ways to meet increased player demand and expectations in the city and generate additional revenue for the Province of B.C. and City of Vancouver.”

The report presents several options to council. They include amending the moratorium to accept an expansion application for one or both of the existing casinos, lifting it entirely for all casinos or conducting a full analysis before deciding.

In the report, staff recommend Option 1.

Parq Vancouver was opened in 2017 next to BC Place stadium in downtown Vancouver. Under current regulations, the 72,000-square-foot, two-storey casino is permitted 600 slot machines and 75 table games. It has maxed out that slot allowance and has 61 table games. Hastings Racecourse and Casino is owned and operated by Great Canadian Entertainment. It has 446 slot machines from an allowance of 600 on a casino floor beneath the horse racing grandstands.

You might also like