Paul Willcocks has an interesting, perhaps too optimistic, evaluation of the Vancouver Casino collapse. His blog Paying Attention offers Vancouver’s killed casino might be symbol of change.
After City Council voted it down, my initial reaction was the casino/hotel/stadium deal was not dead, merely wounded; simply delayed. With Paragon’s political lifeline, it seemed unassailable. After all, Paragon would not be in the picture without BC Liberal connections.
Had the province aimed to maximize financial returns on Vancouver’s billion dollar stadium, it would have sought proposals from the world’s major gaming/casino corporations. For job seeking hospitality grads, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration publishes a list of almost one hundred of the world’s Major Gaming Operators.
Paragon Gaming Inc. doesn’t make that Cornell list. The company is not a major player in its industry nor is it a cash rich investor. Its only Las Vegas property is a small neighborhood sports bar with 15 slot machines. Hardly the base of a billion dollar empire. More about that at the earlier Northern Insights article, Providing for increased crime and gambling addictions.
Had the province wanted hotels built on its land in downtown Vancouver, acting honestly, it would have sought participation of experienced hotel operators and gone through an open public process. By all appropriate business measures, Paragon was and is an inappropriate private partner in this mega-casino hotel venture. Instead, the BC Government dealt in private with politically connected operators who lacked both financial muscle and experience.
Negotiating secret deals behind closed doors had become BC Liberal’s preferred style of doing business. Just as Gordon Campbell kicked regulators to the curb and changed rules to benefit independent power producers, I expected the same would happen at BC Place. Kevin Falcon’s presence in the Finance Minister’s chair does not indicate change from the Campbell style of business.
Paul Willcocks’ article suggests the game has changed and the 2011 edition of BC Liberals are prepared to take fresh looks at the Casino/Hotel deal. Perhaps other deals too. I’m left wondering though, is there really a new game or is this a timeout to change the players? Old scams, new scammers.
Ian Reid’s blog The Real Story provides fine detail about Pavco and BC Place. At least, a few people are doing well.