Special Report: Casino

Livestream of Gaming Facility Proposal Subcommittee Meeting

Today's casino subcommittee meeting considered the public health report on the health and social impacts of a casino.

By RTH Staff
Published December 13, 2012

This morning at 9:30 AM, the City of Hamilton's Gaming Facility Proposal Subcommittee met at City Hall to consider the recent public health report, Health and Social Impacts of Gambling [PDF].

Joey Coleman was on hand and has provided a livestream of the meeting.

A number of residents opposed to a downtown casino attended the meeting and held up signs indicating their opposition:

Sign: No! Downtown Hamilton Casino
Sign: No! Downtown Hamilton Casino

Downtown Businesses

Several small businesses in downtown Hamilton have submitted a letter to the casino subcommittee to express their opposition to a downtown casino. Here is the text of the letter:

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012
Small Business Owners of Downtown Hamilton
Re: Possible Downtown OLG Casino Proposal

To the members of the Gaming Facility Proposal Subcommittee,

We are writing this correspondence as taxpaying local businesses who have invested our money to make downtown an increasingly vibrant central business district, and to express our concern and opposition to the placement of any new OLG gaming facility in Hamilton's downtown.

We were surprised to hear the claim of Mayor Bob Bratina at the November 30th meeting of the Gaming Facility Proposal Subcommitee that "I think I know every restaurant owner in downtown Hamilton ... they all insist we have to have a Casino downtown." We would respectfully suggest that this claim is inaccurate - there exists a split of opinion among local businesses, including restaurants.

As downtown business owners, we believe the impacts of a Casino would be neutral at best and possibly negative. Many people have acknowledged that while challenges remain, our downtown has turned a corner, helped significantly by the contributions and investments of many small businesses.

It has not been shown that a Casino will have a broad positive impact for the pre-existing businesses in the downtown core, nor will it advance our goal of attracting a vibrant mix of new businesses to the downtown. We would point to Brantford's example; while revenues of a Casino, when prudently applied, are helpful in the context of any cash-strapped municipality, in terms of direct economic spinoff to the businesses that surround a Casino, there is virtually none. The demolition of 41 vacant buildings in 2010 on Colbourne Street, directly across the road from the OLG Brantford Casino, would seem to confirm that.

We have tried several strategies in our attempts to rethink our downtown core over the past few decades. We know that bringing tourists in for a few hours is not nearly as reliable as bringing in more residents who will live, work and play in our downtown core for a few years or decades. The day-to-day sustainability of the downtown small business community is largely reliant on achieving that goal, a goal that is directly at odds with the placement of a new OLG facility in the core.

We know by trial and error that self-sustaining developments with little positive interaction with the businesses surrounding it is the wrong approach. We also know that our city has a number of existing social challenges to overcome, and a gaming facility will only do more to exacerbate those challenges, in a way that can never be completely quantified or mitigated.

Signed,

Small Business Owners of Downtown Hamilton

12 Comments

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted December 13, 2012 at 14:34:28

I wish I knew which small business owners signed that letter. I want to give them all high fives.

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By Hint (anonymous) | Posted December 13, 2012 at 16:30:16 in reply to Comment 83854

https://www.twitter.com/mattjelly/status/274556937813774337?p=v

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 13, 2012 at 14:40:09 in reply to Comment 83854

I've asked for a list of signatories. I'll update the article when I hear back.

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By jorvay (registered) | Posted December 13, 2012 at 15:24:54

The highlight for me was Mr. Whitehead's economics lesson (1:18:45) where he suggested that even in an economic model where you have 'full employment,' you'd have to have between 3% and 5% unemployment. In this regard he is correct. However, he then implies that the economic model of full employment even leaves some people behind. That's not true. I too took a course in economics when I was in university. In fact, I took three courses in economics and we talked about full employment a few times. That 3-5% accounts for the number of people at any given time that are switching jobs for normal and legitimate reasons. They are theoretically moving, changing fields, or advancing their position. They're not being left behind. There is also a job vacancy rate within that model of 3-5% to correspond to the unemployment rate.

Comment edited by jorvay on 2012-12-13 15:27:56

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 13, 2012 at 16:09:04 in reply to Comment 83857

When he said he went to university once, did he literally mean "once"?

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted December 13, 2012 at 16:54:29

I can tell you most of the shops on James street signed it

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted December 13, 2012 at 17:39:02 in reply to Comment 83863

Glad to hear it. If I owned a business, I would've as well...

That being said, it seems to imply that every Small Business Owners in Downtown Hamilton signed it, and I doubt that's true.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted December 14, 2012 at 07:40:56

Well the City is always crying because the Province is not giving us much and douwnloding to this city , but the city don`t seme to care if the province gets 95 perc and we only get 5 percent , and thats were this city well go backwards big time loosing biss comming in town and shops closing down

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted December 14, 2012 at 08:30:31

A tip of the press hat to Joey Coleman for his efforts in video recording the Gaming Facility Proposal Subcommittee meeting yesterday as well as his video recordings of many other committee and subcommittee meetings that are usually not recorded by the City of Hamilton itself. 2012 has been a breakthrough year for Hamilton in that Mr. Coleman is now providing Hamiltonians with a larger and clearer real-time window on municipal affairs than they have ever had before. Equally important is that, other than recently receiving donations for video equipment, etc., he has done all of this on a volunteer, not-for-profit basis. He deserves to be nominated for Citizen of the Year for 2012.

Yesterday’s meeting of the Gaming Facility Proposal Subcommittee, which included some useful fact gathering, discussion and requests for additional information, has generated the following news items from the mainstream Hamilton media:

A Hamilton Spectator article titled “Problem gamblers can’t resist nearby casino: Medical Officer of Health” by Emma Reilly: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

A CBC Hamilton article titled “Hamilton councillors examine potential health impact of casino” by Samantha Craggs: http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/story/20...

An opinion piece titled “Casino protesters want it both ways” by Andrew Dreschel in the Hamilton Spectator: http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

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By Dane (registered) | Posted December 14, 2012 at 14:22:47

I wish I was watching the comedy network or the daily show or something cause Whitehead is pure gold. The man couldn't be funnier.

I love it when he pretends to be a lawyer and tries to ask clever questions to bolster his obviously undecided perspective. These convoluted and vague queries fall flat as the extremely, high educated, experts then stare blankly at him and go "huh?" Or "is that a question?"

I would normally chuckle happily until I realize this guy isn't from some backwater township in the States... He makes decisions that directly effect me. This buffoon could ruin my City. And an embarrassment.

Sorry for this post it doesn't advance the discussion but that man has got to be removed from office.

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By areyoukidding (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2012 at 19:49:26

1:21:10 to 1:22:00 is amazing. I don't think there is a single cohesive sentence in all that rambling.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2012 at 09:50:12 in reply to Comment 83954

Here is the quote from the section you are mentioning. I kind of guessed at the punctuation. It's hard to punctuate strings of words that don't really form sentences.

The other thing Mr Mayor that I wanted to raise was that I think it's important we talk about accessibility and I did ask Dr Richardson the question and and we don't have the stats and, and it's not in the medical report, because it talks about location of casino but it doesn't talk about location and access. So again when you have buses of buses and buses picking people up in the very location - downtown - and take them off to casinos, how's that skew the numbers, I mean what is the greater uh... degree of risk if you take those two measurables is that is that uh means that the uh risk is actually less because they're already doing it? I don't know the answer to that question because we don't have that data that information and I think it's important we have it.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-12-15 09:50:48

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