Special Report: Casino

Not Too Late to Stop the Casino

There is still time for engaged citizens to organize and advocate for a smarter, healthier, and saner decision on the proposed casino.

By Ryan McGreal
Published February 04, 2013

this article has been updated

As of right now, the most likely scenario is that Hamilton will get a new casino, and it will be downtown.

This is despite the fact that a majority of Hamiltonians - and particularly Hamiltonians living downtown - don't want one, and despite the fact that the evidence indicates a casino will have a net negative impact on the local economy and a net negative impact on public health.

In the most likely baseline scenario, most lower city councillors will vote against the casino, while most upper city and suburban councillors plus the Mayor will vote for it.

The supporters will argue that Hamilton cannot afford to risk losing its $4.5 million share of the slots revenue, since we decided to put that money into general circulation instead of earmarking it to special projects like most other cities.

The predictable collateral damage - lost retail business in the downtown core and an increase in bankruptcy, family breakdown, illness, depression, and suicide - will be regarded as an acceptable cost and, in any case, someone else's problem (i.e. downtown).

The House Always Wins

It's important to understand the economic forces driving this casino proposal.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) recognizes that competition from new facilities just south of the American border is hurting its casino business. In response to the loss in tourist revenue, OLG has decided to target Ontario residents directly by building more and bigger casinos close to local population centres.

Make no mistake: OLG wants to extract more money from more Ontarians. An OLG casino is ultimately nothing more or less than a voluntary regressive tax collection centre, and the more addictive OLG can make its facilities, the more money it can extract.

That, incidentally, is why it's so disconcerting to consider that a downtown Hamilton casino will be much closer to vulnerable communities at risk of higher rates of problem gambling and all of the social harms that come with it.

As Toronto's medical officer of health warns, both gambling and problem gambling increase when gambling facilities are closer.

Further, the new jobs created will mostly be part-time and low-income, and they must be weighed against the jobs that will be lost from the current gambling facility at Flamboro Downs.

In her research report for the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, Sarah Wayland concludes:

North American research cited in this paper indicates that government revenues generated by gambling receipts are gained from a small portion of the population, a population that is disproportionately low income, less educated, and more likely to suffer from some form of gambling disorder.

As such, Hamilton's low income households are likely to bear significant social, economic, and other costs should a casino be built downtown.

This is not some unforseen, unintended consequence of the OLG's strategy. It is OLG's strategy.

Economy

All of this might be worth it if the overall benefits outweigh the costs, as some casino supporters have argued. However, an overall benefit is a logical impossibility.

The whole point of a casino is to take in more money than it pays out, and the OLG model ensures that most of the money ends up flowing out of the city. For the Municipality to get its $4.5 million share, $100 million needs to flow out of the city.

Not only is that money siphoned out of the city, but it is also money diverted from other local entertainments - restaurants, theatres, clubs, galleries and other amenities - which will suffer lost revenue.

Casino boosters love to mention that Brantford Mayor Chris Friel changed his mind about that city's casino. However, it's important to keep the details in mind:

Casinos, like other megaprojects, do not play well with others. A casino is designed specifically to be a self-contained experience that monopolizes the time and money of its visitors and does nothing to activate its surroundings.

Worse, most casinos are surrounded by parking. OLG casinos generally have one parking spot for each slot machine, and the Hamilton casino bid anticipates 1,200 slot machines. That in itself would be devastating to a downtown trying to crawl out of a postwar legacy of demolitions and surface parking.

The Fix Is In

It feels very, very much as though the fix is in for this proposed Hamilton casino.

This morning, the Mercanti family is launching their casino pitch at a private, invitation-only event being held in Hess Village. Only journalists with "press credentials" will be allowed, and live-streaming is prohibited.

They might as well have just come out and said, "dirty hippy bloggers not welcome".

I have never advocated any initiative or any policy that I did not want to share as widely as possible. Good ideas get better the more exposure they receive. In contrast, the secretive, closed-door nature of this initiative augurs very poorly for its likely impact on the public interest.

Not Over Yet

Of course, politics in a liberal democracy is nothing if not changeable, and there is still time for engaged citizens to organize and advocate for a smarter, healthier, and saner decision on the proposed casino.

It's not too late to stop this stupid, short-sighted, small-minded, regressive, contemptuous get-rich-quick scheme from sabotaging the real, organic, citizen-led revitalization that is already breathing life back into downtown Hamilton.

A coalition is already forming around this issue - http://www.nodowntowncasino.ca - and an intense, concerted, broad-based campaign might yet change enough votes on Council to put a stop to it.

As citizens, we each have a responsibility to get informed about the issue, study the evidence, make an informed decision that reflects our values, and communicate that decision effectively through the political process.

Update: this article originally stated that the OLG casino model requires 4,000 parking spots. An alert reader noted that the parking requirement depends on which of 29 zones across Ontario the site occupies. The 4,000 spot parking requirement is in zones C1 and C2 in Toronto, which would hold 4-5,000 slots. Hamilton is in zone SW9, which would hold up to 1,200 slots. OLG casinos follow a rough parity between slots and parking spots, i.e. a casino with 1,200 slots may be expected to have around 1,200 parking spots. You can jump to the changed paragraph.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 12:45:52

"During her leadership campaign, Wynne said she is not a fan of gambling, and hinted her government might be willing to at least slow the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s aggressive expansion campaign. She now says her personal views on gambling remain the same, but she doesn’t intend to change the process already set out by her predecessor and OLG, and the concern she was reflecting was simply that municipalities need to decide on their own if they do or don’t want more casino gambling....

It would be easy to take a clear position if this was a black and white issue. It is not. There are grey areas. There is serious spin being spun on both the pro and con sides. Most importantly, there are a host of questions still unanswered about location, revenue for Hamilton, type of facility, mitigation of social costs, the impact of a mega-casino in Toronto and many others. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. The Spectator will take a position on the casino next Saturday."

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/editorial/article/879607--wynne-won-t-step-into-olg-growth-debate

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 18:48:21 in reply to Comment 85798

Here's a question - what does the "con" side have to gain by stopping a casino? What does the "pro" side have to gain if one is built?

Who is more likely to spin things?

All of my "con" arguments are based on research and facts, with a motivation of wanting a successful core in the city I love. I haven't "spun" anything. I've researched and stated the benefits of casinos (there are a few - financial mainly - if the casino is done right and put in the right place. But Hamilton is not the right place, and this is not the right time).

If we become a great city which attracts tourists on its own merits, then we MIGHT consider a casino on an economic case. But even then, there are social costs that are difficult to calculate.

The bottom line is that a casino is a HUGE risk with best-case-scenario returns that are paltry. It's simply not worth the gamble.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 12:55:15

Well put Ryan there is not much we can do for there back door meetings .. after all its privet money thats going to biult that casino ... but i like the nodowntowncasino.ca at least us citizens can voice our voice and not let it built in OUR downtown we as tax payers should come out and protest casiNO at city hall on the 6 feb when there going to have that meeting

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 13:37:22

It is great that there has been a concerted effort to build solidarity.

Many issues are intereconnected and people cannot always see the forest through the trees.

This solidarity building has to go further.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2013 at 13:50:25

The Spectator has an article on the casino pitch. The closing paragraph is, um, revealing:

However, it’s widely expected that today’s announcement will also draw protesters from the anti-casino camp.

“Who are these people? What is their background? What have they done?” said Peter Mercanti. “They get almost all the same weight as the people who really count. It shocks me," Mercanti said, referring to the many downtown residents and business-people he has personally spoken with who support a casino.

How dare those people who oppose the casino get "almost the same weight as the people who really count"?

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By Dane (registered) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 14:01:55

I think what is more sad than Mercanti's comment is that no councillor or politico or journalist will hold him accountable.

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By Marion (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 14:02:07

Four thousand parking spots? Surely they can cut that number in half with all-day two-way GO train service to James St North.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:20:11 in reply to Comment 85803

For a sense of proportion:

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1825/plenty_of_parking_for_west_harbour

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:02:05 in reply to Comment 85803

I was under the impression that the 4,000 was a special consideration for the Zone C1/C2 megacasino (up to 5,000 slots).

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/why-torontos-casino-proposals-are-so-last-century/article8109721/

A hypothetical casino in Zone SW9 (Hamilton-Burlington) will contain no more than 1,200 slots. If they're insisting on new 4,000-space parking facilities for all new casinos, that might be a deal breaker right there.







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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:44:54 in reply to Comment 85807

Found the numbers on Zones C1 & C2: 3,600 parking spaces

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-51514.pdf

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:40:25 in reply to Comment 85807

Thanks for pointing this out. Do you have a reference I can check?

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 08:49:24 in reply to Comment 85813

Hey Ryan i was juste checking out the spec the Casino battle Royal artical ..... i was shoke to see Davide Bradley whanting a Casino in the City of Hamilton , he one man i have alot of Respect for .... can you tell me more about that sittuation

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 05, 2013 at 12:56:59 in reply to Comment 85857

Funny, but that didn't surprise me a lot. Braley seems to favour the "silver bullet" style of urban renewal that downtown Hamilton has been suffering for decades.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 14:12:23 in reply to Comment 85867

Such as McMaster's Downtown Health Campus, which Braley kickstarted as a provisional component of a 2007 donation to bankroll the university's Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute.

http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/main/documents/network_fall2007.pdf

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By balls away (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 14:43:41 in reply to Comment 85882

The downtown health campus they had to demolish the Board of Ed building to make room for.

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By Fixed (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 15:04:51 in reply to Comment 85883

The downtown health campus they chose to demolish the Board of Ed building to make room for.

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By Alex Jones (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 14:59:28 in reply to Comment 85883

Do I have to spell it out for you people? Connect the dots. The two biggest employers in the city have conspired to up the ante and put a little more gold in their golden years.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/cadillac-fairview-joins-toronto-casino-sweepstakes/article8030746/

http://raisethehammer.org/article/1698/predictions_about_a_downtown_casino_aka_a_citizen's_horrorscope

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 13:18:06 in reply to Comment 85867

Ahh i see .. i guesse i don`t know Brayley that well after all .. lol , i thought he was a well respected man in this city thats all and thought he looked after for Hamiltoians

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By evelyn woodhead (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 10:52:01 in reply to Comment 85857

New rule: You have to come within 95% of speaking English before getting any responses.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 12:18:25 in reply to Comment 85863

woodhead says it all

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:52:44 in reply to Comment 85813

Here's a list of the OLG's 29 "gaming zones:

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/05/17/olgs-list-of-29-gaming-zones

And here's the backgrounder on the "mega-casino" aimed at Zones C1 & C2:

http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-51514.pdf

I goofed: The megacasino will be "up to 8,000 slots," not "up to 5,000 slots"

I don't know of any official numbers for the SW zones. My guess would be that Hamilton's requirements might be proportionate to those of the megacasino. If so, you'd be looking at 500-600 spaces. But that's just guesswork.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 21:29:44 in reply to Comment 85815

Maybe the Sun is just out to lunch.

http://www.olg.ca/assets/documents/media/RFPQ-1213-061-Gaming-Bundle-1-Ottawa-Area.pdf

Page 53:

Zone C1: Area surrounding Toronto = Maximum 5,000 slots

Zone SW9: Includes the Flamboro Downs site = Maximum 1,200 slots

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:57:06 in reply to Comment 85815

Maybe spoke too fast. The City of Toronto's report linked to anticipates 3,000-4,500 slots. So maybe a third of the C1/C2 parking capacity, or 1,200 parking spots. Again, purely hypothetical.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 20:47:07 in reply to Comment 85817

"...casinos’ one-parking-space-per-slot-machine ratio..."
http://www.nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=187026

My estimate of 1,200 parking spaces may be accurate, but there appears to be no fixed formula. The "4,000 spaces" may just be derived from taking the City of Toronto's and rounded up like post-penny change, or it may be conjecture, but as yet I have found no compelling reason to conclude that "the OLG model requires at least 4,000 parking spots" as a blanket measure.


City of Toronto
Zoning Status of Casinos in Toronto and East York District – Supplementary Report Regarding Parking Information
October 3, 2012
http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/te/bgrd/backgroundfile-50698.pdf


Sault Ste. Marie Casino
Location: 30 Bay Street West, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Parking Standards: 1.0 parking spaces per 5 person capacity / 1.0 parking spaces
per 10 person capacity (elsewhere in the downtown)
Parking Configuration: Approximately 440 free on-site parking spaces
Gaming: 432 slot machines, 12 tables
Other Information: One restaurant, one bar

Caesars Windsor (Resort Casino)
Location: 445 Riverside Drive West, Windsor, Ontario
Parking Standards: Site specific agreement between the City of Windsor and OLG
Parking Configuration: Free on and off-site surface and structured parking, free on-site
valet parking (quantity unavailable)
Gaming: 2,323 slot machines, 81 tables
Other Information: 5,000 seat coliseum, 758 room hotel, 100,000 square feet of
conference space and 6 restaurants

Casino Rama (Resort Casino)
Location: 5899 Rama Road, Township of Ramara, Ontario
Parking Standards: 1.0 parking spaces per 8 person capacity
Parking Configuration: 2,258 free surface parking spaces
Gaming: 2,516 slot machines, 121 tables
Other Information: 289 room hotel, 5,000 seat entertainment centre, 10 restaurants

Casino Niagara (Resort Casino)
Location: 5705 Falls Avenue, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Parking Standards: Determined through Site Plan Control
Parking Configuration: 1,500 paid parking spaces in parking structure
Gaming: 1,500 slot machines, 40 tables (approximately)
Other Information: 3 restaurants, one comedy club

Fallsview Casino (Resort Casino)
Location: 6380 Fallsview Boulevard, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Parking Standards: Determined through Site Plan Control
Parking Configuration: 3,000 paid parking spaces in parking structure
Gaming: 3,000 slot machines, 100 tables (approximately)
Other Information: 1,500 seat theatre, 374 room hotel, 18 restaurants, 30 shops and
15,000 square foot spa



If the OLG is willing to be flexible, city zoning by-laws are a different matter. The Toronto report notes that "The parking standards for gaming establishments are identified in Section 200.5.10.10 Parking Space Rates and Parking Space Occupancy of the Draft City-wide By-law as a minimum of 25.0 spaces for each 100 square metres of gross floor area."

These requirements vary by facility. As the report goes on to note, there are prominent entertainment and tourist venues in downtown Toronto with strikingly modest parking capacity relative to their audience capacity, such as the Rogers Centre and Air Canada Centre, with 500 and 570 on-site parking spaces respectively, despite a combined capacity of almost 70,000 people.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 05, 2013 at 07:57:43 in reply to Comment 85838

Thank you - I've updated the article.

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By johnny velvet (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 14:26:15

How is an academic professor allowed to advocate for such an endeavour. I guess he's being transparent by showing who is paying his bills, but what does that do to the reputation of McMaster University? I find this very disturbing. Will Tony Robbins now be teaching at McMaster also (he's great, don't get me wrong...but not for academia)?

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 14:47:16 in reply to Comment 85804

It's Nick Bontis, he's a business professor - which I think is an oxymoron.

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By skeptical (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 14:38:51

This isn't a negative comment but I'm doubtful Hamilton would even get a casino considering the other locations on the OLG list. I've lived here long enough to see a lot of plans for this city (good and bad) don't come to fruition ;)

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By Dane (registered) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 17:00:09 in reply to Comment 85805

They have nothing to lose opening dozens of casinos. What overhead is there? What job security? The idea is to saturate and squeeze. Since its basically a monopoly there is no incentive to have ... business plans.

Comment edited by Dane on 2013-02-04 17:00:35

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By johnny velvet (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:12:52 in reply to Comment 85805

I thought so too...but recently, I got a really sick stomach going to the local cineplexes in the city. Why? The OLG has major ads going on during the pre-show, about what it does for the community, etc...I felt like I was in some though controlling experiment, outside of the Hollywood experiment. I don't think they are appearing in our theatres as public service, but rather a major PR push. I have not gone to other cities' theatres, but I wouldn't be surprised if our theatres are the only ones getting these "infomercials".

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By Mike Belmore (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:05:44

"In the most likely baseline scenario, most lower city councillors will vote against the casino, while most upper city and suburban councillors plus the Mayor will vote for it."

Spot on, so let's target our efforts appropriately. If we're going to win this fight it's going to be on the doorsteps of our neighbours on the mountain and in the burbs. A Twitterfight just isn't going to carry the day on this one. what would a ground campaign look like? Here are a few thoughts: http://theoriginalpurchase.tumblr.com/post/41916428888/armchair-quarterbacking-the-casino-campaign

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2013 at 16:28:31 in reply to Comment 85808

How about a postcard sized document online that helps us express the facts to our friends and family when talking to them. So many I know are pro-Casino. Tell us how best to counter those questions. I've read a million things. It's up there somewhere, but make it as easy as possible for people to discuss these issues among peers. List the reasons why not to, then list the plus's we are hearing about and why they may not really be pluses.

I for one have never been a good debater. When people are set in their ways, have been force fed the OLG ads and reading about the Meranti's and the Hard Rock Cafe carrot not to mention the new local Hamilton music bones are being tossed, it's hard to debate against something so wonderfully packaged to these folks before we have a chance to have a conversation that without bias, looks at both sides.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-02-04 16:33:06

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By Dane (registered) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 17:01:52 in reply to Comment 85821

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By Amico (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:10:32

Mercantis came here as poor immigrants and built their business grass roots style. Now they crap on the little guy. Slippery pole syndrome.

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By slippery (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 18:51:31 in reply to Comment 85809

Well, I guess they learned that a slippery pole is better for.... um...

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By two casinos (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:22:28

Let's remember that Toronto and Robbie Ford's desired casino is in play too. OLG needs new "players" to replace those citizens who get "tapped out": become broke. R. Ford's election over-spending and illegal spending are being examined by an audit panel. Remember that over-spending in a campaign has potentially--and rightly--harsh penalties, whether they get applied or not is another matter that will need Kathleen Wynne's gov't to re-examine Ont. Munic. Conflict Act and Elections Act. Ford in Toronto is weaker than his council is. If no Casino to Toronto, bigger pressure here.

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By joejoe (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 15:55:52

"In the most likely baseline scenario, most lower city councillors will vote against the casino, while most upper city and suburban councillors plus the Mayor will vote for it"

Exactly! Isn't this always the funamental problem with crappy decisions made in Hamilton? The stadium, one-way streets and now this.

From the comments, "Let's remember that Toronto and Robbie Ford's desired casino is in play too" - that's true but Toronto is less likely to get a Casino downtown because Toronto's downtown is not run by the suburban councillors.

Another comment: "I'm doubtful Hamilton would even get a casino considering the other locations on the OLG list" - you wish! Hamilton's downtown will get a casino precisely because Hamilton's downtown always gets crapped on by suburban councilors.

Until Hamiltonians work out how to redress the imbalance perpetuated by ignorant suburban councillors in the pockets of the usual business cronies these decisions will always go against the best interests of the core.

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By Cynic (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 16:01:24

from the article;
• 1,200 full-time, living-wage jobs, plus additional job opportunities in retail

So there will also be opportunities to make a non living wage?

This is a microcosm of every thing wrong with economy .. a job with a non living wage.
Thanks
I already got two of those...

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By anon (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 16:10:29

I'm curious if anyone knows the position of each Councillor and how they would likely vote on locating a casino downtown. I'm unsure whether the voting would follow an lower-city vs. upper-city/suburban divide. How many have already stated they are against it and who could potentially be swayed to join the "no" camp?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2013 at 16:11:42

You know, regarding the remark about "voluntary regressive tax collection centre", this wouldn't be a problem if what we were saying is that we have created an entertainment engine that takes what taxpayers are spending on entertainment, and the monies (besides wages and overhead), are going right back into the tax base.

Problem is that in many cases, the money isn't coming from the citizen's. It's coming from their lines of credit or credit cards or payday loans or loans I don't want to imagine the origin of. I'd perhaps have no issue with this, if the engine was owned and run by us.

Anyone ever read over a bankruptcy questionnaire? Why is it that there is special section related to problem gambling? Why isn't problem shopping or drinking or drugs in there? After all gambling is an addiction just like the rest of them.

Do people realize that going bankrupt on consumer credit versus gambling addiction is different? That there are strict rules and often more money is asked to be paid back if gambling is listed as part or all of the debt problem?

If we are going to be harder on gamblers than alcoholics or drug addicts or shopaholics because shopping and gambling must rate pretty equal, then it's obvious we aren't doing enough to protect gamblers. Where problems are concerned, why are gamblers targeted?

Gambling isn't entertainment. Spending $50 for 3 hours at Bingo is better entertainment. At least a group of people can sit around and chat and dab away. There is still that chance to win a few thousand dollars but your money at least lasts longer. Playing 7-card poker with your buddies over a few beers for quarters, is also a lot more fun. At least your buddies are taking all your money.

Build a gaming facility where everyone is sitting face to face with another person, and we'll talk.

A Casino isn't the answer.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-02-04 16:12:00

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By Punzy (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 16:37:18

Great article, thanks to Raise the Hammer for being such an intelligent voice for our city. Keep up the good work. I am incensed at this proposed casino and will be watching to see which way my councillor votes!!! I encourage everyone to email their representative with their views (even if those in the no camp "don't count":-)

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By steelcityson (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 16:52:08

I'm sure if Dr. Bontis were speaking against the Casino, all those in the 'No' camp would be quick to latch on to someone in academia championing their cause. But he speaks for it, and everyone trashes him. But if your willing to quote him becasue he is a highly regarded professor, and the argument would be that he has greater insight and knowledge then most because he is a professor, then isn't it hypocritical to dismiss him just becasue he doesn't support your views? Maybe a professor speaking for a casino.....means its not quite as bad as some would like the think.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 23:35:28 in reply to Comment 85823

If Nick Bontis was on the No side he would be a totally different person...he also, most likely wouldn't be yet another retrograde business prof.

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By DanJelly (registered) - website | Posted February 05, 2013 at 00:23:49 in reply to Comment 85844

I'll put McMaster's two economics professors, Hannah Holmes and Dr. Atif Kubursi, up against a business prof who stands to make money from the bid.

Holmes and Kubursi both said a casino was a bad idea for Hamilton, for economic reasons. It may be good for the owners (the business side) but bad for everyone else (the economic side).

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By Truss (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 07:24:31 in reply to Comment 85845

* "I'll put McMaster's Hannah Holmes and Dr. Atif Kubursi, two economics professors, up against a business prof who stands to make money from the bid."

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By neigh (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 18:55:33 in reply to Comment 85823

Hold on now. He's not speaking for the casino as a professional.

He is a stakeholder in the incorporated business which is in the partnership in a casino bid:

http://www.bizapedia.com/canada/ROCKHAMMER-INC.html

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By steelcityson (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 20:25:39 in reply to Comment 85833

I apologize, I just assumed that was his involvement. Regardless, this is someone who knows (and teaches at the university level) business. So, its logical to assume if the business prof decides to be involved, then he is doing so because he has determined that it is a smart choice for Hamilton. You could even go a step further, and say that he has put his reputation and integrity on the line.

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By Dane (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 14:04:29 in reply to Comment 85835

To say someone running a casino is making that choice for Hamilton is a little dubious. I'll give that he thinks he will make money, I am sure he will. Its like printing money! thats because it is a false retail business.

Casino doesn't need to be more than a lawn chair and a bucket - you win when you miss throwing your money in the bucket. That sure is healthy for an economy!?!

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By spin doctors (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 08:17:59 in reply to Comment 85835

That's why they made sure that his mcmaster credentials were clearly stated: to make it look like an academic was supporting it for academic reasons.

This is the kind of pro-casino warfare that the facts are up against. Facts should always prevail, but it's hard for them to win a war against people with no scruples who stand to make millions of dollars.

Fact is that the casino would have a detrimental effect on the city as a whole, but will make millions for a small handful of private companies, and will help prop up a faltering OLG - even if it's just a temporary savior.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 07:54:12 in reply to Comment 85835

Please stop putting stock in university-level business "teaching". People who are actually skilled in the business world often have little formal education is business and are likely educated in a useful field (i.e. engineering, psychology). His academic "credentials" are precisely why he should be ignored.

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By Background Guy (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 20:57:17 in reply to Comment 85835

University Level teaching is sometimes a result of failure to compete in the real world. Not always but considering his track record I would not rate his business judgement and any higher than PJ Mercanti's...

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By steelcityson (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 17:06:53

I'd also argue, or at least put it out as food for thought, that a casino managed and regulated by the province, actually decreases the overall problems associated with the casino. Its well known that any activity that is not available or banned by a government doesn't make it go away, it simply creates a black market. Prime examples are prohibition of the 1920s, the excessive cigarette prices of the early 1990s or the most appropriate example being the police bust in Markham this weekend of the illegal gambling that was taking place at a banquet hall. Gambling, and all the problems associated with it, exist regardless of weather or not it is allowed. There are two main differences. First, the drugs, crime, murder and exploitation of women in the world of underground gambling are 10 times worse then those at a government run casino. The mob doesn't set up 'programs' to help problem gamblers that cant pay their bill. Secondly, there are no facts, figures or numbers reported for illegal gambling...obviously. If there were, the numbers reported by the OLG would pale in comparison.

The overall lesson that has been learned time and again is that its better to allow the precevied 'evil' of what ever, so that it can at least be regulated, controlled and monies directed into programs to combat said precevied evil. Thats why prohibition was lifted, thats why the price on cigarettes came back down to normal levels and that's why a casino in Hamilton would likely do less damage then the underground gambling that goes that we simply do not hear about. W

When you allow an activity, you kill the underground/ black market.

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By except (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 18:57:52 in reply to Comment 85826

"a casino managed and regulated by the province, actually decreases the overall problems associated with the casino"

Problem is, their mandate is to create more gamblers in Ontario and in turn take more citizen money.

They call this revenue. Everyone else calls it gambling losses.

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By Cynic (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 17:36:47 in reply to Comment 85826

'When you allow an activity, you kill the underground/ black market.'

Ok well here's my pitch ... Half of southern Ontario is going have a C@siNO so... Turn the International Village and James North into a north American version of Amsterdam. (I'm not talking about red light districts)

Tourists would flock to hamilton. From the GTA and far beyond.
Hamilton could tax and License the cafes and benefit directly instead a stipend from the OLG. assessments would almost certainly increase in the lower city.

Law enforcement could tackle the real drug problems in the city.(might want start at the doctors offices)

The black market would be paying taxes to hamilton.

Law enforcement outside Hamilton could behave as they choose.
I say do an end run around the province and let hamilton benefit from selling 'sin'

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By steelcityson (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 20:49:30 in reply to Comment 85827

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By AlHuizenga (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 09:23:42 in reply to Comment 85839

Are you high right now?

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By literacy (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 09:16:56 in reply to Comment 85839

What the hell are you talking about? I am assuming you can't read. Because anyone who can, has read the article in the spectator that lists community leaders who are against the casino.

Michael Baldasaro might be against the casino, but even if he is, he's not the only one.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 08:01:18 in reply to Comment 85839

First "those opposed to the casino seem to be pot-smoking hipster-artist type" is a gross generalization that minimizes the across-the-board objection Hamilton has to this casino.

That's like the No! side saying that only fat, SUV-driving suburbanites from an Italian background are in favour. Support for and against crosses demographics.

Second, your knowledge of the health and behavioural effects of marijuana is seriously deficient. Comparing the legalization of pot, a drug less harmful than alcohol, and allowing in a casino with clearly dubious social and economic benefits is staggering evidence of your ignorance.

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By Cynic (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 23:12:31 in reply to Comment 85839


I wrote a long reply to you and then while I was proof reading it ( stoners can proof read) I realized one thing. You ain't been downtown lately. Theres so many 'Stoners' there you and you havn't realize what the real problem is.

Talk to the people outside the Meth clinics.( half the people downtown during daylight). These people are certianly not addicted to 'pot'. Most have them have ended up there because of prescription drugs. Not Cocaine or heroin. The medical profession has a huge amount of responsibility for what is happening in downtown Hamilton.

i live downtown and i would much rather be surrounded by potheads that opiate addicted zombies that preseantly infest 'downtown'. The only ay to do that is make the propery worth so much that the meth clinics can;t afford the rent. The when there is no Meth finally someone will step i and say'Why is the province perscribing enough opeates to kill everyone.

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By Bunny Colvin (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 18:12:54 in reply to Comment 85827

Hamsterdam!

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By joejoe (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 17:50:51

"I'd also argue...that a casino managed and regulated by the province, actually decreases the overall problems associated with the casino"
You would hope right? Unfortunately my experience with OLG (I've worked with their Senior Execs in the past) is that they are in business to make as much money as possible ('if we could attach urinals to the slot machines we would' was one quote I heard). The provincial oversight is not too extensive - support group offices located on the main floor, databases of known/barred problem gamblers and not much else.

The reality is that, like the LCBO, OLG is a business and their job is to wring as much money from consumers as possible.

In terms of neighbourhood revitalization - the casino won't bring any. Casino locations the world over (I've visited a few) are usually fairly desolate looking places with little spill over trade into the surrounding strip. The buildings typically feature fairly closed off entrances (there are no windows inside) and, as a result, tend to be seedy and unattractive. Sue the commercials are glamarous but the reality ain't.

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By LovetheGore (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 18:20:44

I say...everyone show up Feb 6 to show support of No Downtown Casino Hamilton.

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By steelcityson (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 20:30:37

I see the concern that a casino will cause. For me, the big thing is that the casino portion will by 15-20% of the floor area of the complex. So the casino is not the main component. If the remaining 80% is a brand new convention centre, then we cannot dismiss the proposal out of hand. We need a new convention centre, badly. The millions that we miss out on because of the conventions we DONT get.

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By Goin'Downtown (registered) | Posted February 06, 2013 at 00:22:51 in reply to Comment 85837

SteelCitySon, where did this 80/20 ratio come from? And any mention of a convention centre? These haven't been printed anywhere that I've seen.

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By Dane (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 14:12:15 in reply to Comment 85837

Funny I don't remember the Mercantis saying we needed a new convention centre they though what we have was going to be profitable enough to build a (laugh) $200 (chuckle) million hotel.

Seriously someone needs to chronicle the bullshit these guys spit out. No one seems to remember.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted February 04, 2013 at 22:33:12

OLG has the sole power to grant the 20 year licence to the private operator with the winning bid. The Mercantis are wasting everyones time presenting to council, it's completely irrelevant to the bidding process.

OLG is only asking for one number from the qualified operators they will be accepting bids from. What is your threshold limit value? That's it. OLG will pay the operator 70% of all gaming revenues only after the threshold limit value has been exceeded. If you bid $50 million than OLG keeps all the money up to $50 million, after that you get 70% of everything.

It's not as bad a deal as it sounds, OLG also pays the operator an indexed yearly fee for the term of the lease. The Ottawa fee is $30 million. We will have 60% if the slots Ottawa does so the operator here can expect somewhere close to $18 million guaranteed before they cross the threshold bid they made.

All of that is just to show you City Council has absolutely mo say in the process. It's all OLG and you win one just one number.

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By Page Taupin Lambert Wolf (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 07:22:02

https://twitter.com/EmmaatTheSpec/status/298480718709927936

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsdj9NRzqC4

Someone always playing corporation games
Who cares? They're always changing corporation names
We just want to dance here -- someone stole the stage
They call us irresponsible, write us off the page

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 08:30:30

These casino-related items are in the Hamilton Spectator today:

An article titled "Mercantis unveil 200m casino plan" by Emma Reilly: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

An opinion piece titled "The right casino complex could be good for Hamilton's core" by CHML's Scott Thompson: http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 15:25:47 in reply to Comment 85856

Q: Individual bidders seem to have their preferred sites, but has the OLG ever formally articulated this "downtown or bust" intent? I can't recall.

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By HammerInTheNews (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 09:42:58

I was planning on getting into the Mercanti party by disguising myself as Emma Reilly. But I do need a date...

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By johnny velvet (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2013 at 20:42:06 in reply to Comment 85861

OMG! I thought this was Farley's doing...but this obviously has to be satire!! NO WAY!

http://www.thestar.com/business/real_estate/2013/02/05/captain_johns_restaurant_boat_could_have_new_life_in_hamilton_as_casino.html

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 06, 2013 at 08:23:39

Here are some casino-related items published today in the local media:

On CBC Hamilton:

"Hamilton Fact Check: Dissecting RockHammer's casino claims" by Cory Ruf: http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/story/20...

On thespec.com:

"No more casino drama: Bratina" by Steve Buist: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

"Here's to the unsubtle Mercantis" by Andrew Dreschel on thespec.com: http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

"Where is the Ambitious City" by David Premi and Paul Shaker: http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

"Entrepreneur floats waterfront casino proposal" by Emma Reilly: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

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