A lawsuit has been launched against British Columbia and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) by casino operator Pinnacle Gaming Solutions, owned by David Moretto, a North Vancouver resident, who says the company was misled into believing the possibility of opening a gambling venue on Tsleil-Waututh land.

According to the lawsuit, as far back as October 2007 leaders of several First Nations, including the Tsleil-Waututh, retained Pinnacle, owned by North Vancouver resident David Moretto, for the advancement of their economic interests through “the prospect of developing gaming facilities on their lands,” among other things, according to North Shore News. Later an agreement was reached between Pinnacle and the Tsleil-Waututh to have a casino developed on the latter’s land with Pinnacle acting as agent. Pinnacle was also expected to negotiate a casino license for the BCLC, according to the lawsuit. In return a percentage of the gross revenue generated by the casino was to be paid to Moretto’s company.

During the meetings attended by both the lottery corporation and Pinnacle between 2008 and 2015 the “BCLC was particularly in favour of the proposed gaming facility on Tsleil-Waututh lands as there were no casino or gaming facilities on the North Shore and no other gaming facilities proposed for the North Shore,” according to company statements in court documents. In addition, the lottery corporation requested and was presented with a feasibility study in June 2012, which showed “market demand and suitable conditions for the Tsleil-Waututh’s proposed gaming project was largely consistent with an earlier study conducted by BCLC,” according to the lawsuit.

However, Moretto and Pinnacle later found out that another casino developer, Playtime Gaming, owned by Tom Nellis, had already been granted exclusive rights to develop a gambling venue on the North Shore by the BCLC. Pinnacle contends that because it was misled by the lottery corporation substantial financial losses were incurred. According to the lawsuit, prior to Playtime’s award of exclusive developing rights the BCLC failed to consult with First nations. Response to the suit has yet to be filed and none of the allegations by Pinnacle have been proven in court. While Pinnacle did not name a figure in the lawsuit, it has asked that damages based on “negligent misrepresentation and interference with economic relations” be awarded.

The lawsuit follows Playtime’s 2013 proposal to build a community gaming center on the North Vancouver waterfront in the Shipyards district, which was rejected by a majority of the City of North Vancouver council. The council’s decision was controversial considering that more than $11,000 was donated to the 2014 election campaign of City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto by a company owned by Nellis, who at the time also owned Playtime. The lottery corporation’s Greg Walker and Nellis both said the idea had been in the works for approximately five years. Nellis added that if the project received approval his company received permission to transfer an existing gaming license to North Vancouver from Nanaimo by the BCLC.

At the end of December Gateway Casinos and Entertainment purchased Playtime Gaming.

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