February 21, 2020

Class action claims province, lottery corporation promote ‘dangerous’ video slot machines that deceive gamblers like ‘loaded dice’

BIV's lawsuit of the week


A class-action lawsuit launched against the provincial government and the British Columbia Lottery Corp. alleges video slot machines in gaming facilities across B.C. are “inherently deceptive, inherently addictive and inherently dangerous when used as intended.”

Lead plaintiff Corina Riesebos filed a notice of civil claim under the Class Proceedings Act in BC Supreme Court on February 10. According to the claim, video slot machines deceive users with hidden odds and “create cognitive distortions” to keep people playing and losing money.

“Similar to loaded dice or games of sleight of hand, video slots combine randomness with subliminal priming, concealed asymmetry and non-linear payables to deceive the user as to the operation of the game and the real chances of winning,” the claim states. “Some video slots also have a ‘stop’ button or similar input that further reinforces the illusion that the user has some control over the outcome of play.”

But the lawsuit claims video slots cannot be controlled by users since the outcome is predetermined at the start of play by a random number generator. The machines are in use at 15 casinos, two racecourses and 18 community gaming centres, according to the lawsuit. The defendants, it claims, knew or should have known of the “deceptive, addictive and dangerous design features of video slots.”

“Use of the video slots as intended resulted in the Plaintiff and the Class suffering economic losses, emotional distress and mental anguish, and other expected harms flowing from these losses and injuries such as addiction, dependency, self-harm and/or suicide,” the claim states. “Given the Defendants’ unique positions as the monopolists and sole regulators of video slots, charged with a duty to act in the public interest, knowledge of the design features and effects of video slots should be attributed to the Defendants.”

Riesebos seeks class certification on behalf of all people who paid to play “line games on video slots” in B.C. from Febuary 7, 2018. The class action seeks declaratory relief that the defendants failed to provide a “fair and safe way to play video slots” and an order to disgorge $1 billion in profits and revenues for the “unlawful” promotion and authorization of video slot machines. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and the defendnats had not responded to the claim by press time.


BC NDP staying the course with its safe-as-milk 2020 budget

In 2017 you would have been lost in a large, skeptical crowd certain how the BC NDP would steward the economy in British Columbia. There weren’t even bets to take on it.

They would spend like mad, tax like crazy, repel investors, destroy businesses, submerge the credit rating, regenerate a deficit, penalize entrepreneurs, reward cronies. The province would be begging for the BC Liberals again, praying for the collapse of that reed-thin minority government as we hurtled toward hell in a handcart.

So, here we are, nearly three years later, with a third provincial budget that couldn’t have been duller now out of the way, and the major complaints of last week’s revelations are: (a) high-income earners are getting nipped by more tax that won’t require tag days, (b) pop is the 21st-century sin tax, (c) Netflix has to pay up as it should and (d) vaping is going to be marginally more expensive. Not exactly the stuff to send people into the streets to sink the regime.

True, the Horgan administration has made a three-year meal out of class warfare. The top income tax bracket has gone from less than 15% to more than 20% on earnings exceeding $220,000. The taxes on homeowners took the steam out of the market, kneecapped speculators and sliced and diced a lot of anticipated capital gains.

There are the usual playbook chestnuts: unions – except teachers, for some unfathomable reason – have done better, particularly as insiders for juicy government infrastructure. Businesses are absorbing Medical Services Plan premiums. The minimum wage has grown, not reshaping inequity but certainly adding to ever-growing business expense. Large investments in social housing and child care are coming, if not in this term.

But there is also an unorthodox, unpredicted commitment to energy megaprojects: Site C for hydroelectricity and, of course, LNG Canada with its provocative Coastal GasLink pipeline. The Trans Mountain twinning was fought, but only symbolically for show purposes.

All of this has not laid much of a scratch. Surpluses sustain, we lead the country in growth, and in an answer to lingering business qualms about competitiveness, the government has up its sleeve a long-range prosperity plan fashioned by the premier’s deputy minister, Don Wright.

Which is a long, long way of saying an election can come any time now.

Yes, it could have come even sooner, but the BC NDP now sits about as pretty as it ever will – no recession in sight, no overwhelming edge, but enough history to form a narrative that argues for another term.

It is strengthened largely because its opponents are weakened.

The BC Liberals are about to be shamed with the launch of the Cullen Commission into money laundering and the reboot of the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia. It is difficult to see where they plant their flags to regain their territory. Defending personal injury lawyers? Sticking up for the high-income British Columbian? Sure, sore teachers could use a political haven, but would they consider Liberals an improvement?

Andrew Wilkinson’s crew is experiencing what NHL defencemen encounter when they first confront Elias Pettersson: they thought they were on top of the game, but some upstart has just discomfited them. He is being upstaged by ultra-ambitious MLA Jas Johal, the party’s choice to provide sound bites now that he is no longer a journalist reporting them.

Meanwhile, the Greens have lost their largest asset in leader Andrew Weaver. Unless the former Duke or Duchess of Sussex wants the job, it’s hard to see how the party does anything but recede from radar. The NDP-Green alliance is more of a Horgan-Weaver alliance, so the premier owes nothing to any newcomer.

All the NDP needs is an issue to take to the electorate, and it is here that the theory of an imminent election somewhat founders. There are no immediate villains, no manufactured outrage and no prerequisite for a vote of confidence. The party is all dressed up, nowhere to go.

The next budget, then, is the telling piece of the puzzle. Does the NDP stay the course, play it safe, try to gain a majority on the basis of stability? Or does it end the term with a flurry of promises to arouse the skeptics once more? As we say too often in journalism, time will tell

Kirk LaPointe is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and the vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.



New luxury Chinese restaurant in Vancouver offers $588 chef's tasting menu

They are serving up "a fusion of traditional Chinese food with a North American flare" in the shadow of Vancouver's city hall

Quan Ju De Vancouver/Facebook

A new modern Chinese restaurant in Vancouver is raising eyebrows for their high-end offerings, including its particularly pricey chef's tasting menu.

Quan Ju De, an established Asian brand, recently opened up at 12th and Cambie at the base of The Spot building. The restaurant's origins in China date back to 1864, though this contemporary spot aims to serve "a fusion of traditional Chinese food with a North American flare."

One of Quan Ju De's signature menu items is their Beijing Duck. Their basic offering of the well-known dish is priced at $98, while a duck with a caviar add-on goes for $198.

The Beijing Duck joins an array of traditional, modern, and fusion dishes on the regular Quan Ju De menu, ranging from torched aburi-style sushi to a variety of cuts of Kobe beef and A5 Wagyu, along with whole fish preparations and a roster of live market seafood, soups, dumplings, and rice and noodle dishes.

Additionally, Quan Ju De offers some ingredients that are not seen too often on menus in Vancouver - items like conch and monkfish liver, for example.

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✨Food is Art✨ .

A post shared by Chloe Mortgages (@chloebrokerlife) on

The restaurant's proximity to Vancouver City Hall prompted a local reporter to tweet about Quan Ju De's other menu, however, and which includes its eye-popping $588 per person chef's tasting menu among other offerings, and the reality that - at those prices - this particular restaurant isn't likely going to become the haunt for writers on the local politics and civic affairs beat.

This particular special menu features Quan Ju De's most decadent options, including rare ingredients and delicacies you'd be hard-pressed to find at other local establishments, such as South African or Japanese abalone (the differences, pricing, and more info is explained well in this article out of Hong Kong), sea cucumber, and caterpillar fungus. This menu is also one aspect of what defines Quan Ju De as a luxury restaurant.

One other way Quan Ju De is aiming to stand above the crowd here in Vancouver is their forthcoming "iDen" dining option, which they explain as follows: 

"As Canada’s very first 5D immersive restaurant, a seasonal 9 course menu is enjoyed with use of all five senses."

The iDen experience will be for group bookings and individual reservations, with only a dozen seats made available each night.

Currently, some of Metro Vancouver's Chinese restaurants have expressed concerns about loss of customers during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. In response, locals are making a point to visit Chinese restaurants to show support. If you're curious about one of the newest options in the city - and you are a bit more flush in budget - Quan Ju De is open from 5 p.m. to midnight daily, and is accepting reservations.

Quan Ju De is located at 2808 Cambie St in Vancouver

Vancouver Is Awesome


Metro Vancouver's free Food Truck Festival rolling into 10 cities this spring

Get ready to grub on all sorts of food from four-wheeled kitchens soon in a city near you

Photo: Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival/Facebook

Food trucks and family fun will be rolling into communities across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley this spring, thanks to the return of the popular Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival.

For 2020, the GVFTF will hold 10 events throughtout the region, kicking off April 11 in Port Moody, with numerous weekend installments until late June for Car Free Day in Maple Ridge.

This free admission and all-ages event features multiple food trucks parked and ready to serve up their eats, along with a pop-up artisan marketplace, live entertainment, and kid-focused activities. 

Get ready to grub on all sorts of food from four-wheeled kitchens, like classic mini doughnuts, loaded fries, lobster rolls, mac and cheese, tacos, lemonade, fusion fare, and so much more. 

Truck line-ups will be announced prior to each city's event day. 

Each of the events will vary in scope; for example, Langley's Community Day will have 25 food trucks and a beer garden, while in Chilliwack there will be 20 food trucks (and you can bring your leashed dog, too). 

Here's the full schedule for the 2020 Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival. 

Vancouver Is Awesome


Five reasons to spend Spring Break at Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim

New for 2020 is Spring Breakout, which includes the Spring Jamboree and Splash & Dash Water Park event

Of course water slides like the Howlin' Tornado are the heart of any Great Wolf Lodge | Photo: Great Wolf Lodge

I liken any Great Wolf Lodge location as a kind of Vegas for children — there’s always something going on, there’s an arcade with lots of lights and neon, and there’s no real reason to leave.

That is unless you’re combining your visit to Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim with a trip to Disneyland. And even then, Great Wolf Lodge can help because it not only sells tickets to the theme park it also offers a free shuttle, which we took advantage of during a recent visit.

But, of course, it’s the water parks that these resorts are most famous for, so if the idea of surfing indoors or tackling a six-storey waterslide sounds like part of the perfect vacation, than Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim is the ideal location to spend spring break.

Here are five reasons to visit Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim this Spring Break.

Waterslides and pools


Kids can try their hand (or feet) at surfing at Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim. Photo Great Wolf Lodge

Besides the indoor surfing and Howlin’ Tornado, described as a “six-storey funnel of fun,” there are slides and water features for every age.

The little ones can get their feet wet at the Cub Paw Pool, where they can enjoy tiny kiddie slides and rainbow-colored jet skis with water cannons and where the deep end is just 18 inches.


The Racoon Lagoon at Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim. Photo Great Wolf Lodge

Meanwhile at three-feet, six-inches deep, the outdoor Racoon Lagoon includes spray features and fountains. Older kids will want to ride Coyote Canyon, a slide with a 40-foot drop into a water-jet-fuelled vortex below, or the Alberta Falls tube ride, also 40-feet tall.

Of course, the Wolf Tail is always a thrill. Once you step into the launch pad and the floor drops out from under you, you’re hurled into a nearly vertical, 20-foot free fall followed immediately by a 360-degree, high-speed loop. 

These are just a few of the examples of the water slide options available at Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim, so you really have to experience it to believe it.




Don't forget to grab a selfie with one of the Great Wolf Kids during the lunchtime lineup. Photo Great Wolf Lodge

Depending on how early you want to get up, you and the kids can start your day with Wake up with Wiley and Friends, which includes Yoga Tails during which you can find your inner Zen — though keep in mind you are at a Great Wolf Lodge, so not a lot of time for quiet reflection. As well, you can watch the Northwoods Friends Show or become an expert on Northwood’s animals during Wolf Walk.

If you want to take a break from the water park, the lunchtime lineup has got a lot to offer, including face painting, arts and crafts, balloon animals and, if you’re lucky, a chance to have a selfie taken with one of the Great Wolf Kids.

The evening pajama party is always a hit with the little ones. This is your last chance to tire them out before bed, so make sure everyone burns off that final bit of energy at the dance party.

Easy access to Disneyland  


Get early access to Disneyland with a three-day pass package with Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim. Photo Disney

Depending on your length of stay, you can receive discounts at Great Wolf Lodge and passes to Disneyland. You can also purchase tickets for Disneyland at the front desk and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, three-day pass holders can enjoy what’s known as Magic Hour, which allows access to Disneyland one-hour prior to opening.

Great Wolf Lodge also has a free shuttle that runs regularly between the resort and Disneyland, about a 10-minute trip.



Carter Bryant Thomas (l) checking out the Northern Lights Arcade with his dad Ted Thomas at Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim. Photo Sandra Thomas

Other fun ways to spend time out of the pools, include Howl at the Moon Glow Golf, Lazer Frenzy with lights and music, Ten Paw bowling alley, the Northern Lights Arcade and the Build-a-Bear workshop.

First-ever Spring Breakout celebration


The exterior of Great Wolf Lodge Anaheim. Photo Great Wolf Lodge

Families staying at any Great Wolf Lodge between Feb. 28 and May 3 can enjoy new excusive spring-inspired events and activities, including the Spring Jamboree and Splash & Dash Water Park event.

Spring Jamboree

New for 2020, the jamboree includes the Sunshine Celebration, which kicks-off an evening of howlin’ fun as guests participate in a sing-along and mini-dance party. There’s also a host of spring themed games, such as the grasshopper and flower tower ring toss, beehive bag toss, and pin the frog on the lily pad.

The Hustle & Howl Dance Party will fill the Grand Lobby with cascading bubbles while Great Wolf Lodge’s Entertainment Ambassadors keep energy levels high throughout this family-friendly event.



The Grand Lobby at Great Wolf Lodge is where you'll find lots of fun activities. Photo Sandra Thomas

Spring Breakout Story Time

Great Wolf Lodge’s nightly Story Time takes on a spring theme with a new tale featuring the Great Wolf Lodge characters called “Isn’t Nature Great.” Kids will have the opportunity to create a special hand puppet and meet one of the Great Wolf Lodge characters in person. Story Time typically wraps up a day of fun, so kids are encouraged to wear their favorite jammies to the Grand Lobby for this event.

Splash & Dash Water Park event

Kids will decorate their very own spring themed squish ball that will twist and turn down the waterslide, racing to the finish line. Each day, a new child is chosen to serve as co-host of the exciting event and they will assist with dumping the balls down the waterslide, with the first ball to cross the finish line crowned the winner.

Spring Themed Crafts

During Spring Breakout, the resort’s Entertainment Ambassadors will host several spring-inspired craft making events for kids of all ages. Craft projects include handmade flowers, beaded butterflies and dragonflies, butterfly and flower rings and DIY bug jars.

All Spring Breakout events are complimentary for guests staying at the resort. A complete listing of daily activities and times can be found in the Lodge Life event schedule provided to guests upon check-in.

Vancouver Courier


What are we reading? February 20, 2020


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

This likely won't quality as bedtime reading for a lot of people, but it's a treasure trove of insights into White House budgeting Trump style. Amazing what you can get up to when you're a self-professed stable genius with trillions of American dollars to toss around.


Glen Korstrom, reporter:

This good long read examines the political struggle for developers to build sufficient housing for supply and demand dynamics to take effect and make rents affordable. It’s told in part through one city manager who was originally against density but then saw the light. It also documents the YIMBY movement, including a link to an opinion piece on what’s happening in Vancouver. If a second opinion is needed, Barack Obama pointed out in a tweet that this article was “worth reading.” – New York Times


It’s been a perplexing week with the TSX, S&P500 and the Nasdaq hitting all-time highs despite clear evidence that the COVID-19 coronavirus is hobbling many giant companies and that this will have an impact on the global economy. – New York Times


Good to see James Taylor alive and well and promoting a new album. This article, however, delves into his past, and is based on an interview where he is remarkably upfront about past addictions. – The Guardian

There's been a lot of talk recently about shopping malls turning into experience-laden destinations. This article grounds that theory in specifics, with data and examples – Curbed  


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor: 

Meat exporters in Canada and Mexico are the biggest beneficiaries as Japan takes advantage of lower tariffs under the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Economic Partnership Agreement. – Nikkei Asian Review


Most commonly seen around the Lower Mainland as temporary shelters or ad hoc offices, refurbished steel shipping containers are showing up elsewhere in Canada as laneway houses. An Alberta company has one of its sleek homes on display at the B.C. Home and Garden Show. – Georgia Strait


Hayley Woodin, reporter:

I’ve enjoyed listening to WeCrashed, a podcast about the spectacular rise and fall of WeWork. The episodes offer insight on WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann, what it was like to work at the company, and what WeWork as a company is (and isn’t). – Wondery


There is a vending machine in Vancouver that dispenses opioids nearly two-times as strong as heroin. The pilot project is founded on the belief that providing a clean supply of drugs is key to addressing addiction issues in Vancouver (and beyond). Not everyone agrees. – The Guardian