Special Report: Casino

Why Downtown Hamilton Does Not Need a Casino Now

We downtowners are not anti-casino or anti-gambling: we just recognize a bad deal when we see it. A casino can't fix our problems, and might make them worse.

By Michael Borrelli
Published November 12, 2012

Windsor, Brantford, Niagara Falls, Sault Ste Marie and Thunder Bay: each is home to permanent Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp. casino of the kind Hamilton City Council is now considering, and only one of them is any kind of tourist destination, a title Niagara Falls held long before it ever had gambling.

Yet that reality hasn't stopped casino proponents from pitching a 24/7, 364-day-a-year facility on its thin benefits, while largely ignoring its economic risks and social costs.

It's the same 50 shades of hucksterism that sold Springfield a monorail in the fictional universe of The Simpsons. In that classic 1993 episode, citizens were bamboozled by the antics of a fast-talking salesman boasting, "I've sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and by gum I've put them on the map!"

Now we have OLG travelling the province and dangling the prospect of gambling revenues in the faces of Ontario's cash-strapped Springfields.

Casino Sub-Committee

On the tour last Friday was OLG president and CEO Rod Phillips' visit to our council's casino sub-committee. Even though OLG is the government owned corporation responsible for the tricky tightrope act of selling "responsible" gambling, citizen reports from the meeting strongly suggest that questions of money will ultimately rule the day.

After Mr. Phillips was submitted to a number of important and critical questions by Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla, it became clear that a downtown location is preferred by OLG, and Mayor Bob Bratina's said nothing to suggest he's overly concerned with such a plan.

Only time will tell if the Mayor and council will listen to the polls--scientific and anecdotal--showing a majority of Hamiltonians oppose the idea, but hopefully they will also be reviewing the existing studies that demonstrate the meagre benefits of hosting a casino.

For instance, a 1999 Social Planning and Research Council study on the social and economic effects of siting a permanent casino in Hamilton (a proposal which 60% of residents rejected in a 2000 referendum) notes that the choice to patronize a casino may come at the expense of existing hospitality and entertainment options in Hamilton.

While it wouldn't be wise to base a decision solely on the conclusions of a 13 year old report, it is worth pointing out that the modest economic gains predicted by the study were made before we saw an explosion of gambling options in Ontario. The report even stated that "The potential financial viability of a permanent casino in Hamilton has been eroded by the expected permanent casino in Brantford..."

Rosy Forecast

Despite two nearby casinos and a slew of online gambling options, proponents still showcase all sorts of rosy optimistic economic scenarios for Hamilton, but these boosters--few of whom live in downtown Hamilton--will never be held accountable when their visions don't come to pass.

Meanwhile, residents of downtown's Code Red neighbourhoods won't be able to escape what the SPRC study called the "parallel and equally significant social impacts that manifest themselves in problem gambling, impacts on families, crime, etc."

A well-heeled tourist from the suburbs may have no problem driving away after a small loss at the tables, but some of Hamilton's most vulnerable and hard-luck citizens will have a much more difficult time limiting their losses, paying off their debts, and fighting addiction when there is a casino down the block.

It's no surprise that the unquantified costs of a casino downtown have spurred residents and community groups to express their concerns.

Beasley Voices

My residents group, the Beasley Neighbourhood Association, has been building connections with local groups to make sure our voices are heard above the noise of jackpot sirens and clinking coins.

We've been expressing our concerns which are backed up by a diversity of community organizations like Wesley Urban MInistries and the Kiwanis Boys and Girls' Club of Hamilton, and faith groups like the Downtown Hamilton Mosque and Living Rock Ministries.

We believe that a potentially transformative development like a casino downtown needs to be well thought-through and fully discussed, not pushed along by OLG's short timetable (which, thankfully, has been extended to March of next year).

We also believe that a casino doesn't fit the vision of the community as laid out in the city's Downtown Secondary Plan, which advocates for a go-slow approach aimed at "creating quality residential neighbourhoods."

Modest Increases

And we don't buy into the myth that without a casino, our city is in dire straits. The $4.5M in revenue that we stand to lose if slots are removed from Flamboro Downs is significant, but OLG admitted that increases associated with putting a facility downtown are only in the 5-10% range.

The revenue-sharing deal proposed by OLG supports this modest projection of benefits, with CHCH reporting that the additional slot machines at a downtown casino would translate into an deal with the City worth only $5.1M.

A potential gain of a measley $600,000 needs to be carefully weighed against the projected increases in property values that will accompany the ongoing changes currently making downtown a more desirable place to live and raise a family.

Long-Term Future

Downtown Hamilton has the potential to greatly benefit from waves of young families looking to escape the high cost of living in Toronto, but it will certainly be a lot harder to sell these folks on the merits of our city if there is a casino downtown.

At the end of the day, we think it's a choice between a quick bet on a casino, or a responsible investment in our city's long-term future.

We downtowners are not anti-casino or anti-gambling: we just recognize a bad deal when we see it. A casino can't fix our problems, and might make them worse. Until we're sure downtown is back on its feet, let's stick to the existing plan, step aside, and let another municipality roll the dice.

Michael Borrelli is a social researcher living with his family in Hamilton's North End. He tweets @BaysideBadger.

70 Comments

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By PearlStreet (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 14:23:32

In a sentence; if casino revenues mainly exit our town from where we need it most and go to the provice, this is not a wise business decision. I fear a future like the current bingo hall, but bigger. We can't really manage the bingo hall very well, what an eyesore.

Comment edited by PearlStreet on 2012-11-12 14:28:11

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By oldcoote (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 14:25:22

Couldn't agree more.

This is a short-sighted option, and not proactive city-building. We need to demand more from our council.

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By PearlStreet (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 14:31:30 in reply to Comment 82764

If the slice of revenue pie is big enough, then I'll take back my negative prospectives of the project. I have a feeling it will happen the way things are being spoken about within the BIA.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 14:45:29

Re: "OLG admitted that increases associated with putting a facility downtown are only in the 5-10% range."

An uptick that could potentially be offset by the dilution of finite gaming revenues as there is a marked increase in gaming facilities province-wide, am I wrong?

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 14:55:40

An uptick that could potentially be offset by the dilution of finite gaming revenues as there is a marked increase in gaming facilities province-wide, am I wrong?

I think the numbers are pure speculation. According to The Spec OLG was saying that putting a slots+casino downtown is worth 5-10% more to the city, but at the same time they're warning that in the case of a casino at Flamboro "revenues would fall by 10 to 15 per cent thanks to increased competition from other nearby casinos (including Brantford, Woodbine, and a new casino in the GTA)."

This isn't economic analysis as much as it is arm-twisting that is meant to build support for an OLG casino downtown.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 15:22:58 in reply to Comment 82767

As I suspected. So at best we're looking at a break even: 10% revenue gain offsetting 10% loss. We could be looking at a 15% loss and a 5% gain or none at all. Possibly $660,000 of that baseline $4,400,000 vaporized. Because the OLG drip has been going into general revenue, the city has grown dependent upon it, so it's touted as a matter of fiscal responsibility ("zero tax increase" being a city-building vision of limited ambition, but whatever).

While $4.4m isn't chicken feed, it remains to be seen how the loss of slots revenue, in whole or in part, would impact taxes. The recent vote to hold the line on anti-poverty supports is the only recent measure I can think of that gives you a sense of proportion: $5.15 million in bridge funding from the city equated to 1 per cent tax hike, roughly $30 per household.

http://metronews.ca/news/hamilton/426288/council-considers-tax-hike-to-cover-welfare-benefits-cuts

I'm confident that council will twist this into the worst possible baloon animal.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 15:04:38

A potential gain of a measley $600,000 needs to be carefully weighed against the projected increases in property values that will accompany the ongoing changes currently making downtown a more desirable place to live and raise a family.

Some existing property owners may not see that as a problem since it makes what they own more valuable, and it's likely to be a long-term outcome of a successful downtown anyway. I get your point though - the potential to discourage livability and certain types of investment is something to consider.

As I see it, the gain should first be weighed against the potential to increase social assistance costs for both the city and the organizations that provide support systems.

I seem to recall Brantford's mayor saying that didn't happen there, yet others have written anecdotal perspectives that indicate it has been an issue. Has their staff done the forensic accounting to really know what the balance of impacts has been? To strip out the effects of other developments like the Laurier campus, and learn what the true impacts of the casino have been? Would the same thing hold true for a city five times Brantford's size, or would the social impacts be magnified?

I agree that it's important to preserve a revenue stream, but if it also increases a stream of costs, what is the point? Could the net effect be a loss? Could that loss even be greater than what is currently generated at Flamboro Downs? There are lots of questions to ponder and I hope the city takes the extra time to examine them.

Comment edited by ScreamingViking on 2012-11-12 15:07:13

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 15:23:24 in reply to Comment 82768

As I see it, the gain should first be weighed against the potential to increase social assistance costs for both the city and the organizations that provide support systems.

Absolutely agree; I just know I'm not the best person to make that argument.

But you're 100% correct, even if a casino downtown is worth an extra $1M/yr, if it's going to cost more in social service costs, then there is no net benefit of a casino.

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By Observer (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 15:06:13

There is something inherently and fundamentally wrong with a government seeking to increase revenues through the exploitation of human weakness.

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By Burly (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2013 at 13:22:15 in reply to Comment 82769

Best comment so far Govt should not be in the business of causing more hardship for the most vulnerable

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 08:25:03 in reply to Comment 82769

HEAR, HEAR!

That's just how messed up the system is. A tapped-out morally bankrupt house of cards needing to fleece anyone with a spare dime (but not a spare million) just to keep standing.

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By mainstreet (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 15:45:47

It is with sadness that I must agree with others that we are already hooked on gambling revenues Sorry to say we have already crossed the Rubicon.

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By beaslyfireworkstechnican (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 16:06:36

Any idea if the people behind the City's Neighbourhood Development Strategy have weighed in on the casino proposal?

City staff could show real leadership and go against something that contradicts many of the goals of the Neighbourhood Plans.

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 16:12:14 in reply to Comment 82773

Would love to hear what Paul Johnson & co. have to say about a casino. Same with SPRC--I have a 13yr old report here, but surely they have something of value to contribute to the discussion.

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted November 12, 2012 at 16:58:38

So apparently only poor people gamble? Or only poor people are too stupid to realize that they are not going to win gambling?

I suspect that Casino Hamilton won't be much of a tourist draw, but it would certainly be a net benefit for downtown, if for no other reason than it gives people who normally would not go downtown a reason to go - something that is sorely needed.

If a downtown casino makes a little bit of money, boosts property values and gives people a reason to go downtown - I don't see the problem.

I don't really understand the attraction of actually going to a casino - but some people like to, and if suckers want to take some of the tax burden off of me - I have no problem with that either.

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By Petey The Canadian (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 17:01:23

Typical Hamilton negativity. "It might not be of benefit, so why even try it?" Right? Instead of finding ways to make it work to our advantage, let's just fold our tables and go home. Easier.
And as for problem gamblers, let's also close the liquor stores because there are drunks and alcoholics that live in the city.
Try to imagine possibilities, instead of only consequences.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 00:35:41 in reply to Comment 82776

I don't think it is negativity at all. Some people have very real issues and very relevant questions about this.

For me, it's more about "show me the net benefit"

Maybe there are ways to make it work. Maybe someone can use this to the advantage of business spinoffs and the greater good the city. But maybe there are large negative repercussions that have yet to be fully examined.

If it's worth doing, is it not worth having a reasonable discussion beforehand?

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By Good Godfrey (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 18:53:05 in reply to Comment 82776

Williams, R.J. & Wood, R.T. (2004) The Proportion of Gaming Revenue Derived from Problem Gamblers: Examining the
Issues in a Canadian Context, Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 4(1), 33-45, https://www.uleth.ca/dspace/bitstream/handle/10133/373/Williams_Wood.pdf?sequence=1

Excerpt:

"It is our belief that the most meaningful figure is the proportion of revenue derived from problem gamblers averaged across all jurisdictions: 23.1%. If our observed average prevalence rate of 4.2% is indeed correct, then problem gamblers report a proportion of expenditure that is more than five times their proportion among the Canadian population....

It is also important to note that the percentage of gross gaming revenue that provincial governments redirect to prevention and treatment of problem gambling (.3 − 1.2%; Azmier, 2001) is a very small fraction of the gaming revenues generated by problem gamblers. Although expressed need for treatment is also important in determining resource allocation, expressed need is typically influenced by treatment quality and availability. On the basis of our findings, it is our contention that the amount of money devoted to prevention and treatment of problem gambling (and research on how to best accomplish this) needs to be increased so as to be more proportionate to the amount of gaming revenue this segment of gamblers generates.

There is little doubt that much government gaming revenue is used to fund the creation and maintenance of important social infrastructure. Moreover, gaming revenue can play an important role in reducing government debt. Such benefits of government gaming revenue, however, cannot be evaluated in isolation from potential problems linked to government-sponsored gambling in Canada. In particular, if government-sponsored gambling is to maintain any moral legitimacy, it is crucial to have an understanding of the extent to which government gaming revenue is generated by people who may have serious gambling problems and addictions."

+

Alcoholics account for a roughly equal share of the Canadian population as problem gamblers, by estimates: 4%. Those good and generous souls are responsible for an outsized share of LCBO revenue, which of course helps pay for "schools, hospitals, roads and important social programs and major capital projects." They are also an outsized weight on the system.

CBC, 2008:

$18 billion = Total sales at beer and liquor stores in Canada in the fiscal year ending March 2007, a five per cent increase from the previous year.

$667 = The amount, on average, each Canadian spent on alcohol in 2007.

$463 = The amount that alcohol abuse costs every Canadian a year, in lost productivity, health-care costs and crime-related costs, according to a 2008 study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2008/10/10/f-alcohol-numbers.html

The responsible thing to do would be to allocate two-thirds of LCBO revenue to offset the pernicious effects of alcohol abuse. Somehow I imagine that the numbers are more in line with the OLG's nominal "prevention and treatment" program. It's probably slightly higher: At least a drunk generally won't get served in a bar or an LCBO, whereas a problem gambler will have a limo sent to pick him up and have a room comped until the poor mark's bank has been drained.

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By Good Godfrey (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 19:12:54 in reply to Comment 82778

Instead of trying to restrain problem gamblers, the casinos reward them - making big losers feel like big winners and fuelling a $13.67-billion business nationwide. Problem gamblers account for one-third of revenues, studies show, and government-operated casinos could find out who they are.

Their losses are recorded on player's cards that are inserted into slots or handed to dealers.

Governments have made some efforts to curb compulsive behaviour. In Ontario, the government spent $39-million in fiscal 2009 on treatment, research and prevention of problem gambling, with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation adding a further $9.6-million on responsible-gambling initiatives (the highest figure in North America, it says). But the same year, it laid out $558-million on marketing and promotion of casinos, more than half in comps.

"There's a huge societal interest here that needs to be looked at and protected, more so than it has been up to now," said Mr. Isaacs's lawyer, Roger Yachetti. "Governments can become addicted to the income from gambling and not enough attention is paid to the evils."

In fact, 3.5 per cent of Ontario adults said in a 2006-2007 survey that they had a problem with gambling the previous year. Before casinos mushroomed in the mid-1990s, only 2.1 per cent of Ontario adults said they had a gambling problem at any point in their lives, according to research by Robert Williams, the Lethbridge co-ordinator of the Alberta Gaming Research Institute.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/casinos-spend-millions-on-comps/article1310163

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 18:42:56 in reply to Comment 82776

I absolutely agree with a casino in Ancaster. Surely with all its benefits, expensive cars, furs, and burly security, the best way to take advantage of its benefits is to locate in an area already teeming with benefits. And, bonus, we can save all those wealthy gamblers, we know there are so many, from having to race along our one-way streets on their way to the unfolded tables, bright lights, and certain jackpots.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 20:16:54

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 21:57:20 in reply to Comment 82782

With casinos being built in nearly every jurisdiction (read: "gaming zone") I think the answer is revenues will undoubtedly go to other jurisdictions, whether we choose to build in the downtown core or not. Why come to Hamilton if Toronto and London and Niagara Falls all have a casino?

I have no doubt the primary group gambling in a particular gaming zone will be residents of that zone.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 12, 2012 at 22:52:15

At the Hamilton Gaming Facility Proposal Subcommittee (Casino) meeting on Nov 9/12, OLG representatives estimated that gaming revenues to the City of Hamilton would decrease by 10% to 15% if the gaming facility stays at Flamboro Downs vis-à-vis a projected revenue increase of 5% to 10% if a casino was constructed downtown. If these estimates are correct, it would result in a revenue difference in the range of 15% to 25%.

If we use the $4.5 Million gaming revenue payment Hamilton received in 2012 for illustrative purposes, the 15% to 25% revenue variation between a casino at Flamboro Downs or a casino elsewhere in Hamilton would be somewhere in the range of $675,000 to $1.125 Million per year. Hamilton would still net an annual gaming revenue payment in the range of $3,375 Million to $3,825 Million by having a casino at Flamboro Downs and there would be almost as many casino-related jobs at either location.

With the cancellation of the Slots for Racetracks program effective March 31, 2013, the survival of Flamboro Downs becomes immaterial to OLG. But for the Hamilton community, the survival of horse racing at Flamboro Downs continues to be an urgent matter. Its demise would result in the contraction or complete collapse of the local horse racing industry and local farms and agricultural businesses that support it and are, in large part, supported by it. It has been estimated that as many as 3,000 local jobs in and near Hamilton could be lost if the Flamboro Downs racetrack closes.

Hamilton city council needs to quickly verify whether the estimated economic impact of losing Flamboro Downs is accurate. If it is, then saving Flamboro Downs is worth much more to the local economy than the $675,000 to $1.125 Million per year in additional gaming revenue that can be gleaned from a downtown Hamilton casino. And if placing a casino at Flamboro Downs is now the only chance it has to survive, then the Hamilton community needs to craft a decision that works for Hamilton and specify that Flamboro Downs is the sole location for a Hamilton casino.

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By granny (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 07:11:02

Not sure why OLG prefers downtown, but it's the wrong choice imo.

It would just be a big dead space, contributing nothing to the urban environment, and creating more dead space around it as businesses close.

The suburbanites who want to gamble should put it in their neighbourhood.

The 5-10% gain downtown would likely come from welfare cheques, ie city budget, and leave families in need.

Comment edited by granny on 2012-11-13 07:19:01

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 08:57:41

A lot of people seem to be implying that a downtown casino will create problem gamblers, and by rejecting it, we're somehow "preventing" this. I don't buy it. We have a bingo hall downtown, plus tonnes of places to by lotto tickets. Not to mention, the Flamborough and Niagara casinos are a short bus ride away. If someone wants to gamble away all their money, they don't need a brand new casino to do that in; they already have plenty of options.

On the other hand, a new casino can:

  1. Provide the city with hundreds of new jobs (some of them high paying, although I admit many of them won't be).
  2. Provide the city with sorely needed property tax revenues.
  3. Depending on the location chosen, we could be losing one of our many, excess surface parking lots.
  4. Provide the city with a new entertainment venue for live shows.

Are there some negatives? Potentially. Are there positives? Most definitely.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 10:18:21 in reply to Comment 82799

Here are a couple of negatives that will offset that potential of 'hundreds' of jobs: the loss of jobs in the horse racing industry, and supporting agricultural industries, and the loss of the Flamboro casino jobs. No guarantee they would all be rehired by the new owner, and certainly no guarantee they would retain their seniority or benefits.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-11-13 10:22:06

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2012 at 11:57:25 in reply to Comment 82807

Really - seniority and benefits for existing casino workers is a reason not to build a new casino that will employ new workers.

Of course there is no guarantee that they would be rehired at a new casino - I see that as an opportunity to cut out the underachievers who are otherwise protected by seniority.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 20:53:43 in reply to Comment 82829

Really - seniority and benefits for existing casino workers is a reason not to build a new casino that will employ new workers.

Where are you getting that from? I was simply adding a few more qualifiers to mrgrande's already qualified comment on the casino's job potential.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 10:46:40 in reply to Comment 82807

This is true, but if a new owner takes over OLG Flamboro, there's no guarantee they would retain their seniority, either.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 09:42:41 in reply to Comment 82799

The OLG's prediction is that by 2017-2018, its modernization plan will have created "2,300 net new industry jobs — and an estimated 4,000 jobs in hotels, restaurants, entertainment centres and retail."

Province-wide, mind you. I would guess that the markets where there's a wholly new facility and not simply a transfer of venue would see the largest growth. But there's not a lot of detail on these things, as the OLG admits.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/06/premature-to-speculate-revenues-from-casino-olg-president/

The OLG's chosen wording also seems to sidestep the matter of net economic impact outside of the gaming industry, most visible in rural host communities.

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/transition/interimreport08172012.htm#sarp

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 09:09:40 in reply to Comment 82799

I don't know how many people are implying a downtown casino will create problem gamblers. My reading of the comments, and what I hear from residents is that there's a concern that a downtown casino will prey on the weakness of problem gamblers already living in the core.

We know who lives in the core, and the problems they face. That is no mystery.

Meanwhile, every one of the 4 benefits you list is speculative--a best-case fiction. In fact, I believe that #2 is very unlikely to happen since I think you are discounting the very significant room for property value increases in the residential neighbourhoods that surround downtown.

So, Mr. Grande, given that you qualified your list with a "can", what gives you the confidence to say that there are "Most definitely" positives?

Comment edited by Borrelli on 2012-11-13 09:09:55

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 10:14:30

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 10:27:21 in reply to Comment 82806

I don't think anyone is talking about prohibition: Casino or not, problem gamblers living in Downtown can still walk into any convenience store and gamble to their hearts content.

And agreed, we should be talking about how to help those at risk of gambling problems. The BNA isn't qualified to speak about how best to do this, however we do believe that putting a casino in close proximity to where problem gamblers live is predatory and unhelpful.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 11:20:29 in reply to Comment 82808

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 11:41:35 in reply to Comment 82821

I'm literate, toadie, and am quite aware of the definition of prohibition. I've yet to meet anyone calling for the prohibition of gambling, but I'll wait on you to look it up and catch up to the rest of us.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 11:57:19 in reply to Comment 82824

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By LITERACY FAIL (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2012 at 10:24:55 in reply to Comment 82828

pro·hi·bi·tion
Noun:
1 The action of forbidding something, esp. by law.
2 A law or regulation forbidding something.

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By Delicious Irony (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 13:03:57 in reply to Comment 82828

"I'm litterate too"

You're funny.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 13:14:09 in reply to Comment 82838

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 11:11:35 in reply to Comment 82808

FWIW:

If 3.5% to 4.2% of the population are problem gsmblers, that works out to be somewhere between 18,000 and 22,000 Hamiltonians.

OLG Slots at Flamboro Downs averaged around 3,400 visitors a day in fiscal 2010-2011.

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By Lambchop (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 14:07:39 in reply to Comment 82817

"...somewhere between 18,000 and 22,000 Hamiltonians."

Roughly equal to the population of Ward 14.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 10:33:47

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 10:55:26

Perhaps the city should insist that substantially increased prevention/treatment funding -- as part of the local revenue sharing contract -- be a part of any commitment to host a ca sino.

If the government is spending less than $49m annually on prevention but more than 11 times that on promotion, I would say that the game is a little bit more than rigged -- and if a third of the $2 billion in annual OLG revenue is attributable to ludomaniacs, I would say that the game is a little bit more than rigged.

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By panic (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 13:14:35

Who wants to bet council will panic and give OLG whatever they want no matter what the public wants? Citizens don't have a chance against big institutions in this town.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted November 19, 2012 at 19:44:57 in reply to Comment 82841

I think we have enough votes on council to vote YES. I'm counting 9 Yes, and 6 No.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2012 at 09:38:33 in reply to Comment 83035

Except the YES votes aren't going to have to live near the darn thing.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 13, 2012 at 13:23:23 in reply to Comment 82841

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 16, 2012 at 08:26:35

Michael Borelli's RTH article has been printed in today's Hamilton Spectator under the title "Pitch for Hamilton casino is monorail hucksterism": http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

Also in today's Hamilton Spectator is an article by Andrew Dreschel titled "Casino bidders to reveal plans". Dreschel makes no mention of Flamboro Downs in his article. http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

It seems clear by this quote that City of Hamilton Director of Economic Development and Planning Tim McCabe is pushing for a downtown casino:

"I'm not interested for the City of Hamilton in a stand-alone casino. It's got to be something that fits the bill in terms of downtown revitalization, mixed use, good city-building, good design.

Something that's going to help our tourism industry or guests to fill the hotels up."

Dreschel's article does not mention Flamboro Downs at all. He forgot to ask McCabe about his plans to alleviate the economic impact of the contraction or possible collapse of the local horse race industry if a downtown casino opens and Flamboro Downs closes.

Dreschel article is also silent on McCabe's views as to whether a downtown casino would have a positive or negative economic impact upon downtown residential development or existing small downtown businesses.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-11-16 08:51:52

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By Pupster (registered) | Posted November 16, 2012 at 09:16:18

What would a casino bring to us in the lower city? I've travelled to many cities that have casinos, and the casino areas are utilarian, almost industrial in nature. The casino buildings are closed off, with no windows, and the surrounding areas are not glamorous at all. Why? Because nobody wants to live beside a casino. Casinos operate 24 hours a day. Casinos have their own food and drinking facilities inside, and gamblers do not leave the building when they feel that winning streak coming on. Casinos are not part of the community; they are insular. Most visitors from outside the city itself will drive to the casino snarling up our streets. Local gamblers who come on foot or via bus tend to be poorer people; money spent gambling is money NOT spent on groceries or clothing.

We can also say goodbye to condo development or other housing nearby. Nobody will open a restaurant beside, or near a casino. Local businesses will suffer, and then close. Have we heard council talking about increased parking requirements or road congestion in downtown Hamilton? Nope. We could see a donut-hole area of parked cars around the casino where nothing else lives or breathes.

I suggest that Council take a look at reports from other cities with casinos. Check out the depression of the surrounding areas, and don't force us to just accept, open-mouthed and incredulous, that a downtown casino will bring us untold millions of dollars to spend. The desperately broke Ontario Government just wants more profits from legalized gambling than they are currently getting, and will strong-arm us to help balance their books.

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By hear hear (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2012 at 11:58:51 in reply to Comment 82962

Please send this to all councillors.

This is a shit sandwich, randy!

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By First As Tragedy (anonymous) | Posted November 16, 2012 at 15:13:44

City councillors accepted a new deal with the Ontario Lottery and Gam¡ng Corp. for a cut of the money from sløt machines.... after their chief lawyer told them they were in about as strong a negotiating position with the provincial agency as a child seeking a bigger allowance.

The OLG, which oversees public gambl¡ng for the provincial government.... really wasn’t interested in anything the city government had to say about its offer, said city solicitor Rick O’Connor. Earlier drafts of the deal even had the City of Ottawa’s formal legal name wrong. “It was very difficult to get them to move even on that,” he said....

Under the old arrangement, which gave the city five per cent of the money from the racetrack’s first 450 sløt machines and two per cent from the next 800 machines, the city got about $4.3 million last year. Under the new deal, the city gets a share of the cash the machines bring in: 5.25 per cent of the first $65 million, and a declining share after that, down to 0.5 per cent of any amount over $500 million....

Ultimately, city council did the same thing it did when the gam¡ng corporation asked for permission to find someone to build a new cas¡no in Ottawa, whether it’s at the raceway or somewhere else: councillors complained about how powerless they are and then voted in favour of what the gam¡ng agency wanted.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/story.html?id=7548387

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By mainstreet (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2012 at 08:00:29

RE"casino gamblers will snarl up our streets" If snarling up our streets is a problem, which it is,why not go back to one way streets and put those traffic snarling bike lanes on the side streets.As has been stated people that arrive by bus or on foot have less money to spend.Isn't that the root of the problem of our dismal downtown?People that ride the bus or walk or bicycle have less money to spend, and yet the two way conversions have created that very problem of traffic jams already.Perhaps that is the very reason why our local merchants are suffering on the self created downward spiral of inconveniance to those that drive? Ya gotta have it one way and not the other (pun intended).

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By You have it backward (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2012 at 10:54:30 in reply to Comment 82985

"As has been stated people that arrive by bus or on foot have less money to spend"

As has been stated by whom? You?

Experience from business owners in areas where cycling and transit have been given a fair share of space have experienced the exact opposite. Those who don't have the crippling expense of multiple cars per family have MORE disposable income to inject into the local economy because they send less off to foreign automotive conglomerates, oil companies and banks.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 17, 2012 at 09:07:34

Here is a link to a poignant opinion piece by Mark Chamberlain titled "A casino will Hamiltonians sick - with addiction and money crises" in today's Hamilton Spectator: http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

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By Letsdoit (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2012 at 13:44:02

Here's the plan. The OLG restores the Royal Connaught Hotel, I saw some old pic's of the place inside and out, it was quite nice. There's also parking space.
Or...we use the former Bank of Montreal on the second level of Jackson Square right at the corner of King and James! A little gambling, a good meal, some dancing with music by live entertainers and so on. Want to stay the night? Sorry, you'll have to walk through the mall and head for The Sheraton a fine place to relax and grab some shut eye. The next day you shop at Jackson Square, that night you watch a great show at Hamilton Place. The day after that, its the Bull Dogs kicking butt! You gotta love this town! Well...just thinking.

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By First As Tragedy (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2012 at 10:04:25

Adam Slight, a co-owner of Ottawa Rickshaws, said he thinks he was invited to the evening meeting of city council’s finance committee because of a midsummer blog post he wrote that was cautiously optimistic about the idea.

“As for my own 2 cents, I do know one thing: If a good cas!no were to be built in downtown Ottawa, Ottawa Rickshaws and other entertainment providers downtown would strike j@ckpot,” he wrote. “Many praise the ByWard Market for pursuing a rustic, farmer’s market image — but I doubt these people realize that there has been a significant drop in business in the Market over the past several years. A cas!no would undoubtedly cure this.”

A cas!no would be bad if it were just built to suck money out of problem g@mblers’ pockets, he wrote, but done well it could “be exciting, promote local culture, hire local performers and restaurateurs, and act as an entertainment hub.”

That’s what Slight was thinking about when he heard from the city’s director of economic development, Saad Bashir, inviting him to go to the one meeting where Mayor Jim Watson said the public would be heard on whether Ottawa should have a cas!no. “They were looking for businesses that would be for the idea; that’s my opinion,” he said.

Slight was second on the list of nearly three dozen speakers, which the city clerk’s staff assembles in the order they get requests to speak. He showed up at City Hall and listened to presentations from city officials and executives from the Ontario L0ttery and G@ming Corp., which was asking the city government for its approval to go looking for bidders who’ll make specific proposals on what kinds of cas!nos they’d like to build where.

It was obvious to him that the politicians had already made up their minds; Watson had urged his fellow councillors to give the OLG the go-ahead a week before the meeting, in fact.

“Why were we invited to come give our position if they already knew what they want?” Slight asked.

He listened to OLG chief executive Rod Phillips and policy director Paul Pellizzari and his heart sank. The more he heard, the more a cas!no sounded to him simply like an effort to exploit g@mbling addicts here in Ottawa instead of letting them be exploited at the Lac-Leamy cas!no in Gatineau.

“These are just two fat cats and it’s in their interest to get a cas!no in another city,” Slight said he concluded.

When his turn to speak came, he joined the overwhelming consensus of the public presenters against the cas!no proposal.


http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/City+invited+only+casino+speakers+lone+consultation+session/7346207/story.html

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By Dane (registered) | Posted November 19, 2012 at 10:18:40

Food for thought. OLG revenues go to the funding body called Trillium. Potentially this could help many organizations in Hamilton. Keep in mind that this would mean that City Council wouldn't be involved - so thats a relief. While this wouldn't have money directed at private sector ventures it would support social and cultural elements in Hamilton. There would also be jobs attached to many of these projects both short-term and long-term. Take a look at their website. http://www.trilliumfoundation.org

This is available to our community regardless of the presence of a casino.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 19, 2012 at 21:32:50

According to an article on the Toronto Star website tonight titled “On casino issue, Caesar‘s Entertainment clashes with Public Health“, the Toronto Board of Health “…voted 9 to 1 in favour of a motion that OLCG “should not be invited to expand gambling in the City of Toronto”, based on health risks associated with gambling described in a report by medical officer of health Dr. David McKeown.” http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/cityhall...

As part of the information gathering stage in Hamilton city council’s deliberations on the pro and cons of expanded gambling in Hamilton, one hopes that they seek input from Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, our city’s Medical Officer of Health, if they have not already done so.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 24, 2012 at 08:54:56

In the Weekend Reader (Forum) section of the Hamilton Spectator today, there is an opinion piece by Kyle Caldwell titled "Casino centophobia (i.e. fear of new ideas)": http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 27, 2012 at 07:57:39

The opinion piece titled “Casino centophobia” by Kyle Campbell in the Hamilton Spectator on Nov 24/12 has elicited these letters to the editor published in today’s Hamilton Spectator:

“A glittering tax machine, nothing more” by Paul Gauthier http://www.thespec.com/opinion/letters/a...

“Casino article superficial and patronizing” by Syd Hielema http://www.thespec.com/opinion/letters/a...

“Casino article exposed closed minds” by Pat Stevens http://www.thespec.com/opinion/letters/a...

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By Le Chiffre (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2012 at 08:03:56

A bill that could financially help Caesars Windsor and other Ontario cas!nos appears to be on death row in the Senate and that concerns Ontario's southern-most cas!no.

Bill C-290 would allow g@mblers to bet on single sporting events, like the Super Bowl, passed unanimously in the House of Commons.

However, Senators say they are poised to reject it.

'We probably have enough ... to kill it.'— Senator Norman Doyle

"I've talked to people individually who indicate that they're going to vote against it," Conservative Sen. Norman Doyle said in an interview earlier this month. "I'm thinking that we probably have enough people in the Senate to kill it."

It would mark the first time the Upper Chamber has rejected legislation unanimously passed by members of Parliament.

Windsor West NDP MP Brian Masse, who cosponsored the bill initiated by Joe Comartin, said MPs have stepped up a letter-writing campaign in Ottawa to convince senators to pass the bill.

Currently, the criminal code prohibits betting on individual sports games. It's only legal to do so in four U.S. states. Michigan and Ohio, two of Ontario's biggest gaming competitors, aren't among them.

Business at Caesars Windsor has suffered through a high Canadian dollar and U.S. passports laws so if ever there was a time Caesars Windsor could use some unique gaming aspect to attract more American guests, this is it.

"We're keeping a close eye on it. It will be good for our business," said Scott Jenkins, the director of advertising for Caesars Windsor. "It's certainly something that we're hopeful gets passed."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/story/2012/11/13/wdr-sports-betting-caesars-windsor-casino.html

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By Goodeve (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2013 at 08:58:23

Trillium dispenses upwards of $3 million annually to Hamilton charities and not-for-profits through three granting programs: Community and Province-Wide programs and the Future Fund. Within those programs, funding is allocated the sectors of Arts & Culture, Environment, Sports & Recreation, and Human & Social Services.

http://www.otf.ca/en/applyForaGrant/granting_programs.asp
http://www.otf.ca/en/grantRecipients/hamilton.asp

In the last several years, local recipients have included Art Gallery of Hamilton, ArtsHamilton, Bay Area Restoration Council, Beasley Advisory Committee, Brott Music Festival, Carnegie Gallery, Charlton Hall, Christ Church Cathedral (Maker’s Market), Community Centre for Media Arts, Dundas Valley School of Art, Dundas Historical Society Museum, Environment Hamilton, The Factory: Hamilton Media Arts Centre, Green Venture, GritLit, Hamilton Artists Inc., Hamilton Pride Festival, Immigrant Culture & Art Association, Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts, Interval House, Lynwood Hall, OpenStreets, Opera Hamilton, Ottawa Street Farmers' Market, The Print Studio, SISO, SACHA, SPRC, Theatre Aquarius, Welcome Inn Community Centre, Workers Arts & Heritage Centre, YMCA, YWCA and so on.

Point being: We don't have to absorb the cost to reap the benefit.

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By Goodeve (anonymous) | Posted February 16, 2013 at 19:21:52 in reply to Comment 84733

Among those receiving OLG gaming revenues via Trillium Foundation since 1999:

Hamilton & Region Arts Council/Arts Hamilton: $153K
Workers Arts & Heritage Centre: $212K
The Print Studio: $217K
Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts: $235K
Art Gallery of Hamilton: $255K
Hamilton Artists Inc: $378K
Community Centre for Media Arts: $482K
Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra: $531K
Bay Area Restoration Council: $737K
SPRC Hamilton: $965K

Figures are independent of inflation adjustment.

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By price per head (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2013 at 13:14:48

price per head

Thanks for sharing and also commenting vital information.

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