The Las Vegas–based company that wants to build the biggest gambling complex in Western Canada next to B.C. Place Stadium doesn't run a casino like the Bellagio or the MGM Grand in its hometown.
According to Burnaby-based UNITE HERE Local 40, which represents hotel and hospitality workers across B.C., Paragon Gaming Inc.'s only gambling operation in the U.S. doesn't even come close to those of the big American players.
Based on the union's research, Paragon's Las Vegas casino is actually a neighbourhood sports bar with 15 slot machines. It's called the Creek Bar and Grill.
UNITE HERE Local 40 notes in a paper that having the sports bar allows the company to maintain its gambling licence in Nevada.
“We want to tell citizens of Vancouver who are concerned about good, stable jobs to oppose Paragon's casino because their track record doesn't show a company that appears to be able to handle the scale of developments that they're proposing for Vancouver,” UNITE HERE Local 40 director Lynn Flandera told the Straight by phone.
Flandera said her local isn't against gambling, noting that its parent organization represents about 100,000 casino workers across North America.
“Our concern is whether Paragon can supply good, stable jobs,” Flandera said.
UNITE HERE Local 40's paper cited failed bids by Paragon to open casinos in Missouri and California, as well as in New Brunswick.
Paragon has two gambling operations in Alberta, which are joint ventures with First Nations.
According to the union, the Eagle River Casino in Whitecourt, a partnership with the Alexis First Nation, has 250 slot machines. The $60-million casino caters to long-haul truckers.
The paper notes that Paragon also operates with the Enoch Cree Nation the $182-million River Cree Casino. The Enoch operation has 1,000 slots, 39 gambling tables, and a 249-room hotel. The casino serves customers of the West Edmonton Mall.
In 2006, according to the paper, Paragon acquired Vancouver's Edgewater Casino for $42 million, saving it from bankruptcy. The casino has 500 slot machines.
Paragon states on its website that it plans to open in 2013 a 1.2-million-square-foot “entertainment destination complex” in Vancouver. This would include two hotels with a total of 650 rooms, a spa, 1,500 slots, 90 gambling tables, 50,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, seven restaurants, and four bars.
Tamara Hicks, director of corporate affairs and strategic communications for Paragon Gaming, sent the Straight a statement saying the company was founded in 2000 to “pursue destination casino opportunities outside of Nevada”.
“The company's senior management team is one of the most experienced and respected in the gaming industry today, and were behind the Circus Circus casinos, the Excalibur Hotel, and Luxor Las Vegas,” the statement reads.