Paragon Gaming Sells Stake in Vancouver’s Parq Casino in Wake of Controversy and Financial Loss

Posted on: February 6, 2019, 10:45h. 

Last updated on: February 6, 2019, 10:46h.

Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming has sold its stake in the Parq Casino, a luxury gaming facility in downtown Vancouver which has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons since its 2017 opening.

parq casino
The Parq Casino was supposed to be a can’t-miss project, but Paragon is pulling the chute. (Image: Paragon)

Paragaon announced that it has unloaded its ownership shares to the PBC Group, an Ottawa-based real estate developer, for an undisclosed amount. PBC, along with Paragon and the Toronto-based holding company Dundee Corporation, were the three original investors in the $640 million casino resort.

Paragon managed the facility for 10 years – back to when it was still called the Edgewater Casino – leading up to its massive renovation. But now the company wants out, leaving the other investors to hold a candle for the future of the casino.

“PBC believes that Parq Vancouver is positioned to become a central feature of the downtown entertainment district and will serve as further proof that Vancouver has become a global destination city” Paul Bouzanis, PBC’s president, said in a release.

Controversy and Bleeding Cash

One could hardly blame the Vegas-based company for wanting to pull the plug on the Parq experiment after less than two years.

Featuring two Marriott hotels, 72,000 square feet of gaming space, a 65,000-square-foot conference center, and a prime waterfront location, it was supposed to be a can’t-miss project.

The sale of Parq leaves Paragon with three properties.

  • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe
  • Hooters Casino Hotel — Nevada
  • Westgate Las Vegas — Nevada

After opening in the fall of 2017, the facility’s first year went relatively smoothly. Then came the Drake incident.

The Canadian rapper accused casino management of racial profiling when it refused to let him gamble there after a Vancouver concert, calling it the “worst run business I have ever witnessed” on an Instagram Post. 

Casino officials would later apologize, but the bad press would continue for weeks.

Then, in November of last year, a report revealed that Parq had lost $108 million in 2018. Management acknowledged the poor financial situation, blaming it on British Columbia’s (BC) new anti-money-laundering rules.

The Wild West

Which brings us to the final reason that Paragon may be pulling up stake.

BC’s entire casino industry has been mired in controversy since last summer, when a special investigation revealed that international criminal organizations had been using BC casinos to launder money.

Initial estimations were that criminals had laundered some $100 million via gaming facilities, but a new report last week indicated that some $2 billion in criminal cash had in fact flowed through provincial casinos. 

The PBC Group and Dundee Corporation will take over day-to-day operations of the casino from Paragaon.