Las Vegas-based casino operator Paragon Gaming has become the subject of an expanded review by the British Columbia Ministry of Finance and the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) to determine whether the development of the Edgewater Casino in Vancouver by Paragon subsidiary Edgewater Casino ULC continues to meet the conditions of its registration.
According to the GPEB, the “expanded examination” is a continuation of a review announced back in July 2014 involving Michael Graydon, the former head of the B.C. Lottery Corporation and current president of Paragon affiliate PV Hospitality. The GPEB review of Graydon was launched after a separate provincial government investigation determined that Graydon knowingly negotiated his new Paragon gig while still holding the top spot at the B.C. Lottery Corporation.
The Ministry of Finance, which oversees GPEB, told the The Province that the review of PV Hospitality had been suspended in the spring because of a pending internal audit but had now resumed.
“This is an independent process, governed by GPEB’s legislated authority under the Gaming Control Act,” the ministry added. “Typically, this type of activity could take several months. As the examination is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
The onus of the investigation centers on whether Graydon violated provincial conflict of interest rules by negotiating a job with a company vying to build a casino in Vancouver when he was still the head of a regulatory body responsible for regulating casinos in British Columbia.
Opposition critic for gaming David Elby believes Graydon could be deemed ineligible to work for a gaming company in the province if it is determined that he and Paragon were complicit in violating conflict of interest rules.
Another issue that could dampen Paragon’s chances of developing the Edgewater Casino is its financial viability. “Unfortunately for Paragon, they have a very shaky history in Canada for developing casinos,” Elby said.
“That’s why, I believe, the investigation is taking place. If the investigation is done properly it will ensure BC taxpayers are protected and ensuring that the company that does build at BC Place has the financially knowledge to be able to do it properly.”
Elby also said that there’s a real chance that the Edgewater Casino development could be scrapped entirely. “They may not be able to continue to operate the Edgewater Casino if they’re found to be not suitable, in terms of the company, to operate it.”