07/31/2003 11:00PM

City Council takes step toward slots at Hastings

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The Vancouver City Council, which for a long time has had a no-slot-machines policy, approved a motion that would allow Hastings to apply to install slot machines at the track. In a 5-4 vote, the council agreed to consider allowing Hastings to install up to 900 slot machines. If final approval is met, Hastings management estimates that purses would double by 2005.

The decision does not mean that slots will definitely be installed at Hastings, but it does instruct city staff to report back to the council in October on the "procedures and other issues relevant to the introduction" of slot machines.

Hastings will now have to present a proposal that is acceptable to both the neighborhood and city council.

"I feel pretty confident that we can present a proposal that everyone can support," said Phil Heard, president of Hastings. "Hopefully, we can be up and running in the next 18 months."

The provincial government has been pushing the city to approve slots for the past few years, but the former city council was adamantly opposed on moral grounds.