Downtown Vancouver is getting a new $450-million casino and hotel complex to anchor its new "entertainment epicentre," B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell confirmed on Friday morning.

Campbell made the announcement with David Podmore, the chair of the B.C. Pavilion Corporation, at a news conference at the proposed site for the complex — a parking lot between BC Place and the end of the Cambie Street Bridge.

The casino, which will be similar in size to the River Rock in Richmond, will also include two major hotels, five restaurants, and more than 100,000 square feet of gambling facilities, said Campbell, who called the project a catalyst for development of the area.

The new facility will be run by Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming, replacing the company's Edgewater Casino in the old B.C. Expo 86 pavilion across the street from the new site.

That location has had troubles with poor access and parking, but the new location is expected to be more easily accessible to the public.

Recapturing Olympic excitement

"During the Olympic Winter Games the streets of Vancouver were alive with the Olympic spirit — and we hope the entertainment complex will help recapture some of that excitement," said Campbell.

The province said Paragon has signed a 70-year lease for the site, but the deal is still subject to municipal approval.

Pending the approval of a re-zoning application by the City of Vancouver, construction is expected to begin in early 2011 and wrap up by 2013.

Next door, work is just beginning on the installation of a new retractable roof on BC Place stadium. That $460-million project is expected to be completed by the summer of 2011.

City revenues expected to grow

The new casino complex is expected to generate about 3,200 direct jobs during construction, and up to $130 million a year in revenues for the province once it is completed, said Campbell

It is not yet clear how much revenue the City of Vancouver will get from the project, but the city already gets about 10 per cent of the profits from the Edgewater casino and a second casino at Hastings Park, for a total of about $5 million a year.

Coun. David Cadman said the revenue has not turned out to be the jackpot the city was promised, since they pull in roughly half what was originally forecast.

"That's the sizzle in the sell. The reality is quite something else in terms of delivery," he said.

Cadman expects the new casino will bring in much more revenue, but at the expense of other smaller facilities in the Metro Vancouver area.

"We know that Burnaby and the River Rock do much better because of the Las Vegas style," he said, referring to the area's two largest casinos.      

Cadman said when the city council originally agreed to allow slot machines in the city the number was capped at a few 100, but the new facility is expected to have space for 1,000.