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Poker News: April 14th, 2011

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HEADLINE: Professional poker player supports mega casino plan in Vancouver

One of Canada’s top poker players estimates up to a dozen high stakes illegal poker games occur in Metro Vancouver each week and they are unsafe and attract “sketchy characters.”

Matt Jarvis, who finished eighth last year in a World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas, made the statement Sunday at a public hearing regarding a mega casino proposal before city council.

“You get some sketchy characters, you get some unsafe areas,” said the 26-year-old Surrey resident, who plays regularly at Edgewater Casino at the Plaza of Nations. “To me, I feel safe in a casino. When I go in there I know no one can walk in and—I’m going to extremes—pull a gun or come in and put my life at risk.”

He said the illegal games are held in “back alley joints” and highrises, the majority of which occur in Vancouver. He wouldn’t say if he participated in the illegal games, and declined to provide more detail on his knowledge of the games when questioned by NPA Coun. Suzanne Anton on his statement.

“As a poker player, I make a lot of educated guesses and I would say that’s my best educated guess,” said Jarvis, who won more than $1 million for his eighth place finish in Las Vegas.

Jarvis spoke in support of Paragon Gaming Inc.’s proposal to build a $500 million casino/hotel complex adjacent to B.C. Place Stadium.

Paragon’s plan calls for 150 games tables and 1,200 to 1,500 slot machines, two hotels and several restaurants. Paragon operates Edgewater, where there are 75 tables and 520 slots, and wants to relocate its gambling licence to the proposed facility.

City council will decide April 19 on the proposal.

Jarvis said providing more tables would substantially decrease the number of illegal poker games. He said the main reason the illegal games occur is because the tables at Edgewater and other casinos are always full on a weekend.

“There’s people on the waiting list that sit there for a couple of hours,” he said. “If there’s a bigger facility and more tables, 100 per cent these other private games would not be able to exist as easily.”

A bigger casino would also make it possible for Vancouver to host an international poker tournament, he said, noting tournaments he’s played in around the world attract 150 to 12,000 players, whose tourism benefits local economies.

The RCMP’s now-defunct Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team produced a report in January 2009 that examined the extent of illegal gambling in B.C.

The report was obtained by the Vancouver Sun through a Freedom of Information Act request. The authors said authorities investigated 138 incidents between 2005 and 2008 related to common gaming houses in the Lower Mainland.

“Common gaming houses can be located anywhere—bars, restaurants, private residences, garages or rented halls,” said the report, adding that 25 cases involving illegal dens were operated by organized crime figures and frequented by gang members.

The provincial government disbanded the RCMP enforcement team one month after it issued its report, which also detailed the extent of money laundering, bookmaking, animal fighting and loansharking.

The Vancouver Police Department is now the primary police authority over investigations involving illegal gambling dens. So far this year, no charges have been laid related to gaming houses or gaming offences, according to Const. Lindsey Houghton, a VPD media relations officer.


Article downloaded from the World Wide Web on April 14th, 2011 supports+mega+casino+plan+Vancouver/4616457/story.html

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