Would a casino be good for your city?
Concerned citizens packed Ottawa city council chambers yesterday to hear the pros and cons of locating a full-fledged casino in the capital. Many are concerned about increased crime and gambling addiction, despite the attraction of more revenues for municipal coffers.
"Gambling is an addiction with extreme consequences," local addiction counsellor Dallas Smith told council members, arguing that casinos contribute to family breakdown, domestic violence and bankruptcy.
"Gambling also has the highest rate of suicide of any type of addiction,” he said. He may be right, but it's not likely to make much difference.
"The question isn't whether the city will have a new casino, but where it will go," writes Ottawa Sun columnist Susan Sherring.
The Ontario Lottery Corporation has a new plan for casinos, she explains. It wants them modernized, more accessible to both residents and tourists, and with a lot more slots and gaming tables.
The province is shutting down its slot machine operations at racetracks and closing or relocating "underperforming" gaming facilities in favour of opening new ones closer to potential customers.
In Ottawa specifically, OLG wants the hundreds of Ontario cars now parked outside of Quebec's Lac Leamy casino (which is just a few kilometres away) to spend their money closer to home.
Except that casinos are actually costly to the public, maintains one anti-casino group, suggesting that taxpayers put up $3 for every $1 gambling contributes to the economy. They're also poor for local businesses, the group suggests.
Where do you stand? Would you want a new casino in your city?