The Toronto Casino debate might have died a few years ago but opponents of a casino shouldn’t assume the fight is over. It could get revived at any time by a provincial government and by the city of Toronto. All it takes is a mayor or premier to say they want to go all in and make a Toronto casino a reality. Selling the idea of a casino is probably an easy one and it really requires planning and campaigning which during the last time around that campaign was fairly weak and it allowed people to research more on the topic and learn the pros and cons of having a casino in the city. We know that Toronto city council voted 40-4 to reject the casino proposal, this was in 2013 and the debate is far from dead. One would think after OLG launched their first provincially licensed online casino, playolg.ca, that they don’t need this tax revenue they claimed they needed. The truth is gamblers have had access to online casinos for a number of years and playolg has been a little late to the party but it will probably quiet the need for more gambling income as they got it.
We know that Caesars Entertainment was behind the bid for the Toronto casino and it seems they still wanted to push for a deal to go through. Caesar’s is now in bankruptcy protection and an article by the New York Post here claims this was part of an effort was to win support from creditor’s for reorganization efforts. Maybe the company should change it’s name to Seizures Entertainment to be more fitting. Without a doubt, if they were to win the Toronto contract, it would definitely help the floundering company but it goes to show how desperate they were back then and how they still are now.
The pros of having a casino in Toronto
There are some pros about it and we’ll focus on these before we start talking about the cons. The pros are that it would spark a major development from an infrastructure point of view. Assuming Ontario Place could be an ideal spot for a new casino, this would add another entertainment complex that would cost a lot of money to build, create some local jobs in the construction as well as hiring staff and other spinoff industries. Whatever it would be, it certainly wouldn’t be ugly. That might sound good and rosy but let’s check out the cons.
The cons of having a casino in Toronto
There are many experts that predict that a Toronto casino would be bad for the local economy and it’s a negative drain on the economy rather than a helping stimulate the economy which is something you’ll hear Caesar’s claim to be true. To claim that a casino would be a positive economic gain is like saying that legalizing heroin would be a positive economic gain for the local economy. We can already see what the opioid epidemic is doing in the US and the drug dealers, aka doctors and the pharmaceutical industry is making a good profit but it’s coming at the expense of the money and life being sucked out the poor suckers that are addicted to these drugs, which are prescribed by doctors that we expect to look after our health. It’s maybe no different we expect the same from politicians to look after our city and the people in it rather than any potential kickbacks whether anything illegal is happening there or not.
Casino Windsor: A case study
Look no further than Casino Windsor to know what a casino was supposed to do for the local economy but didn’t do. When the casino first opened, a lot of shop owners and restaurants were excited at the influx of people that were coming into the city to gamble. Instead, all of these restaurants and jewelery shops had to close down because the money just wasn’t there. If people were coming to gamble, they weren’t really spending their money elsewhere. The casino also sucked up more money from the locals that otherwise might have spent it locally outside of the casino. You can argue all you want about the tax money that comes in but money doesn’t grow on trees and if you look at the economics of the situation, there are too many experts that point that casinos are a drain on a local economy and not the opposite. On top of this, the casino in Windsor is part of the Harrah’s group of casinos which you guessed it, profits by them leave the country.
In the United States where more and more casinos keep being built but are failing. Funny enough Caesar’s was one to put a casino in Baltimore and we now know that Caesar Entertainment are struggling financially. This article from The Atlantic explains how casinos wreck a local economy and how casinos are even suffering.
Problem gambling always increases anytime a casino opens its doors around the world and the problem is a local one. There are a lot of gamblers that don’t go to the other casinos like Casino Niagara, Casino Windor or Casino Orillia because it’s a long distance both in time to get there aside from the fact it costs money. These casinos will certainly offer you access to a free shuttle bus service but let’s be honest, a casino in Toronto is going to activate more problem gamblers in this city. A good resource on the topic is ThePOGG’s problem gambling addiction guide.
Some of the arguments against a casino in Toronto are that 60% of profits come from people that have a gambling addiction and also many of the marginalized communities are affected and prone to gambling.
2017 and beyond
John Tory is now the city mayor and Kathleen Wynne is barely hanging on as premier and she is really showing how out of touch she is with people. There’s a good chance she is not back for another term and nobody knows what the next premier would have on their agenda. The question keeps coming up as there will always be lobbyists pushing for a casino in Toronto but after the last debate, it seems that most of the people in the city are in favour of keeping it out. Toronto has become a world class city without the help of a casino and there are too many indicators that suggest a casino wouldn’t help our city get better.