Paragon Under Fire by BC Regulators

Gaming regulators in the Canadian province of British Columbia are reviewing Paragon Gaming’s suitability and qualifications to develop a casino resort (l.) in downtown Vancouver. Paragon’s Edgewater Casino relocation and expansion project would cost about $535 million.

Hiring of former BCLC head still in question

British Columbia’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch is assessing whether Paragon Gaming is qualified to construct and operate a multimillion-dollar casino resort on the Vancouver waterfront. That review is concurrent with an investigation of Michael Graydon, former CEO of the BC Lottery Corp., who now works for an affiliate of Paragon Gaming.

David Eby, provincial government representative for Vancouver, told Vancouver News 1130 that regulators are checking into “the circumstances of Mr. Graydon’s departure (from BCLC) and his violation of provincial conflict-of-interest rules, and whether that makes him ineligible to work for a gaming company in British Columbia.”

The company “may not be able to continue to operate the Edgewater Casino if they’re found to be not suitable,” said Eby.

Graydon is now head of PV Hospitality, a subsidiary of Paragon Gaming. He was named to the post in late 2013, during his tenure as head of B.C. Lottery Corp., the governing body which reports to the minister responsible for gaming and the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch.

Last December, the city of Vancouver approved the relocation of the Edgewater Casino to a larger site at the Plaza of Nations across the street. The new property will be 72,000 square feet and would include two hotels, a shopping center, a conference center and other amenities.

One thing wouldn’t change: the number of slot machines and table games. The expanded casino can have no more than its current allotment of 600 slots and 75 tables. Critics of the new development have expressed concern that the larger space is being built to eventually house more gaming machines.

According to Eby, the investigation of Paragon “is a major issue for this entire development.” He also questioned problems at Alberta’s Eagle River Casino, a result of the collaboration between Alexis First Nation and Paragon Gaming. In January 2014, the venue was “losing over a million dollars a day,” Eby told the news outlet, and may call into question Paragon’s operational expertise.

“When you have a casino operator that is bankrupt, then that raises questions about their solvency generally, and their ability to manage very sensitive business in the province,” Eby told the Vancouver Province. “So it would be perfectly reasonable and appropriate to me that GBEP would be investigating Paragon in light of this bankruptcy.”