About 200 people - mostly casino employees - packed a public forum Tuesday night in support of the proposed expansion of Vancouver's Edgewater Casino.

Paragon Development wants to relocate the facility from the Plaza of Nations to a new site beside BC Place stadium, a move that would see the casino triple in size as part of a new hotel-entertainment complex.

Tamara Hicks of Edgewater Casino said the expansion would create hundreds of new jobs.

"Right now, Edgewater is at over 600 jobs. If the proposal goes through, we are looking at upwards of 1,700 to 1,900 additional jobs," she said.  

Edgewater employee Gisdela Cardenas said she fears she will lose her job if the casino is not allowed to move and expand.

"We all have children, most of us, we are people. We pay rent, we pay bills, that is why we are here," she said.

The $450-million hotel-entertainment complex proposal would include two luxury hotels and six restaurants. Edgewater said the new casino would be less than 14 per cent of the whole operation.

Opposition to expansion

Sean Bickerton, spokesperson for the "Vancouver Not Vegas" coalition, said the proposal should be stopped for the sake of the city and its soul.

"We are deeply opposed to a massive expansion of gambling in Vancouver that would see the tripling the size of the casino, creating the largest casino in western Canada, Bickerton said.

Former Vancouver councillor Peter Ladner said there needs to be an independent review of what the social costs will be for the city before going ahead with this project

"There has never been an examination of the impact of gambling in B.C. by anybody except an agency that benefits from gambling," said Ladner. "The provincial government gets big money, the city gets big money. I've been there, I know what it's like. I know the difficulties of making this decision. Your judgment is dulled by the excitement of all the money. The city could get $10-million more from this than it is getting now."

A coalition of community groups opposed to Edgewater's expansion will hold a public forum at the Chinese Cultural Centre Wednesday night.

Edgewater's current lease on the Plaza of Nations site expires in 2013.