Government’s gambling secrets

This time last year, Vancouver city hall was the site of the 2011 version of the great casino debate. Council eventually turned down the Paragon Gaming proposal to expand its Edgewater Casino to a site next to B.C. Place Stadium. The company is allowed to relocate the casino, if it wishes. No word yet on whether that will ever happen.

Part of the reason why the Vancouver Not Vegas coalition succeeded in defeating the expansion was new information about gambling-related crime. Now I have more.

While the B.C. government’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch proactively publishes compliance and enforcement reports on which bars and restaurants flout liquor laws, it’s not so easy to get information from the parallel agency, Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. GPEB thinks the names and locations of licensed gambling and lottery establishments that break laws and regulations should be kept secret, whereas LCLB names names. Why is the government reasonably transparent on the booze side and not on the gambling side? Maybe because the profits are higher in gambling, where the government holds the cards through its legislated monopoly.

Anyway, I had to push hard to get documents about the government’s enforcement of illegal underage gambling. I actually had to file a supplementary Freedom of Information request when the Solicitor General’s ministry claimed it would take too much time and money to compile a list of violations of the section of the act that makes it illegal to sell gambling products to those under the age of 19.

Funny enough, they did have a list, for the period of Jan. 1-Nov. 29, 2011! And it offers more information (albeit often vague) about B.C.’s gambling problems.

More British Columbia gambling crime reports
News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.

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