Casino

Windsor Casino a Lesson for Other Ontario Cities

By Ben Bull
Published February 19, 2013

A note of casino caution in The Star today, courtesy of Canada's gambling poster child - Windsor.

On the quiet streets that line the boarded-up storefronts of downtown Windsor, everybody remembers the casino mania that swept through Canada's ailing motor city nearly 20 years ago. ...

But then the oft-told tale takes a darker turn. Three new Detroit-area casinos killed Windsor's monopoly in the region, and tighter border restrictions and the near-collapse of the once mighty auto industry brought the bustle to a standstill.

While Windsor casino still employs around 3,000 workers, and pays between $13-21 an hour, the article notes that tourism is now back around pre-casino levels, and spillover trade is minimal at best.

As Mayor Eddie Francis notes, a casino is not a silver bullet:

You've got to stitch a number of these different industries together and diversify. We're not there yet, but we're getting there.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 05:49:13

As long as we're cherry picking things from the article, here's some other quotes:

“Cities are struggling these days from an economic perspective,” Francis said. “(The casino) is a job creator. It’s an industry — and it’s an industry that I’m really glad we have, because without it, we’d have 3,000 more unemployed people.”

and

Behind the counter in the surviving convenience store late last month, she said she’s grateful to the casino for creating “all those jobs that never (previously) existed,” because “as long as they have stable jobs … we get business from those people.”

and

“Where is Windsor if we lose the casino? A ghost town. That’s why we fight so hard to keep those jobs,” he said.

and

“It’s fair to say that we could have not afforded to do as much as we’ve done without the payments we’ve received from these entities,” said Colucci.

Oh, and this one (of particular interest to Hamilton I'd say):

In recent years, Windsor has redone its downtown streetscape, and handed over city buildings to local post-secondary institutions, which are promising to bring thousands of students to the core. “You’ve got to stitch a number of these different industries together and diversify,” Francis said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.”

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2013-02-20 05:52:46

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 23:19:50 in reply to Comment 86494

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 07:17:24 in reply to Comment 86494

You got that wright downtown thats all what the NO side are doing so , so can we .. lol

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 07:20:48

Oh and don`t forget to aske the Mayor of Windsor about if there poverety got wors .... not because of the Casino im sure but the (eco) , and did Windsor got alot more addictions in Gambeling as well in the last 20 years they should be a good exemples

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 09:32:47

It's not just casinos. It's tourism in general.

"Canada has experienced flat-line or modest increases in visitation in recent years, and in some years, declines. Our historic reliance on the United States market – which has traditionally provided 75% of Canada’s international visitors – has proven to be particularly troubling in light of a decline of 55.5% in these customers since 2000. The loss of United States visitation and the emergence of a wider competitive spectrum have contributed to Canada’s fall from 7th place in international arrivals in 2002 to 18th place in 2011. These declines in international visits coupled with the near-doubling of the spend for Canadians travelling outside the country has contributed to Canada’s ballooning travel deficit. Standing at almost $16 billion at the end of 2011, this number has increased six-fold over just the past decade.... Canada’s travel deficit, almost $16 billion at the end of 2011, has increased six-fold over just the past decade. Flat line international inbound travel spending has been offset by a near doubling of the spend of Canadians traveling outside the country."

http://hlta.ca/reports/The_Canadian_Tourism_Industry_-_A_Special_Report_Web_Optimized_.pdf

http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/889664--overnight-trips-to-u-s-hit-record-level-in-december

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:11:32 in reply to Comment 86507

There you go you juste answerded my question

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By Sue (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:08:06

It'd be interesting to see what Windsor would be like today if 20 years ago, instead of pursuing a casino, they handed those abandoned downtown buildings over to the university and had two decades of students living in the core.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 23:16:44 in reply to Comment 86514

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By coote (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2013 at 09:56:15 in reply to Comment 86558

DAAAAAGNABBIT!

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 21:20:47 in reply to Comment 86514

You're right, it would be interesting. But since we don't have a time machine to do anything about it, we won't ever know. What I do know is we're giving Mac a partial chance at this, both with the continuing ed building in the old courthouse and their new space at the old board of ed building. I really, really wish that Mac had taken ownership of the Connaught - I really think that would've been a great fit. Upper levels would be residences, the bottom (ground) floors could be used for formals, receptions, and post- graduation stuff at Hamilton Place. Oh well...

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:15:14 in reply to Comment 86514

Its because the U.S. stop comming and the auto incompanies folded not the casino .. actuly the Casino is probely the only thing thats bringing in money in Windsor

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By Sue (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:23:25 in reply to Comment 86517

That's not at all what I asked.

I understand the reasons why the city isn't doing well. They didn't realize an industrial city was an expired concept until decades after they should have.

They invested in a casino that provided short term profit that dried up after competition was built across the river.

It seems like the only thing going for the city right now is the 3,000 jobs that are provided at the casino.

My question is, had the city invested in initiatives that actually grew and evolved over the past 20 years, where could they be today?

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 23:17:14 in reply to Comment 86518

They invested in a casino that provided short term profit that dried up after competition was built across the river.

The exchange rate was big too. US dollars don't go as far today as they did when our dollar was only worth 60 cents US.

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:27:24 in reply to Comment 86518

I hear you now ... so what whould thoses (initiatives) whould be faceING Detroit City

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 11:00:33

The recovering U.S. auto sector will help boost the Windsor-area economy by 2.4 per cent this year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

In fact, Windsor joins other Ontario municipalities that will experience higher economic growth as a result of their reliance on the U.S. economy, according to the board’s Metropolitan Outlook released Thursday.

“The economic recovery in the United States, although slow, will help boost exports coming from Ontario’s cities this year. U.S. demand for motor vehicles is especially strong, which will lead to production increases at automobile and parts factories across the province,” said Mario Lefebvre, director of the Centre for Municipal Studies.

Ongoing work on the Herb Gray Parkway will boost the construction sector, and the Windsor census metropolitan area’s vital manufacturing sector is expected to grow for the fourth consecutive year because of a continued rise in U.S. vehicle demand, the board said.

Last year, Windsor’s economy grew by 1.6 per cent while employment climbed at its fastest rate in 10 years, increasing by 2.4 per cent. Job growth is expected to slow to 0.6 per cent this year.

http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2013/02/14/windsor-area-economy-in-upswing-in-2010-conference-board-of-canada/

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 12:14:50 in reply to Comment 86583

Im verry happy to hear that ... so it was not alll the Casino fault ..lol i sure hope to hear the same thing with Stelco in Hamilton

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 11:14:10

I was on the fence and felt sorry for the Flamborough Downs people but lately, after hearing all the evidence both for and against, as well as all the lies from both sides, I really must move to the pro casino downtown side. We are a (slowly) growing city and need some MAJOR investment to propel us into the future. The city is basically working against most major progress because of it's backwards thinking council and I truly believe there is a majority of citizens who want it and more large investment.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2013 at 13:24:58

Agreed that the blog cherry picked quotes and presented an anti-casino bias overall. Fair comment. But that's why we have the comment feature right?

When I read the article I felt that the key points were: - The initial success and hype of the casino have more-or-less faded away. The key selling points for the casino - easy access and 'cheap money' for Americans - have now gone away. So for the most part it is now just another casino - The casino today may have made a marginal impact on tourism. Tourism levels are now back down below pre-casino levels (there are other factors at play here of course) - The casino is a major city employer. Pay ranges are moderate, well below the car manufacturing jobs of old - Spillover trade did not really happen - Building a successful city, a downtown in particular, takes more than one 'sliver bullet'

So Windor's experience is a note of caution for Hamilton, especially if citizens feel it will make a massive all encompassing difference to the downtown. Of course employment will spike, but as with all industries we seek to attract, we need to look at the kind of jobs we are going to get as well as any other implications related to the venture. I would prefer an entertainment venue which positively impacted the surrounding area not a virtual bunker such as casino.

There are many differences with Windor's offering and Hamilton's. Hamilton will have other casino rivals in fairly close proximity so it's not going to have a unique advantage of any kind really. I expect it's casino would attract mainly locals (who could distribute their income more effectively at local independent businesses or else save it) or else the usual casino travellers (many gamblers routinely do the round of OLG casinos).

Overall I think the net value will be a few more jobs, a dead zone downtown, more money for the province and no gain (and possibly a loss) for local businesses. Oh and more addicts! Not worth it in my opinion.

Cheers

Ben

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 21:50:56 in reply to Comment 86590

Ah, so it was RTH, and not yourself, that added the quotes? Interesting.

I agree. The article was an interesting read. The casino flourished when our money was worth 2/3 of the US dollar, there was nothing comparable nearby, and the enconomy was not in recession. Then a bunch of blows in quick succession, and now it's flatlining.

I am thinking that a smaller scale casino, for example, something you would do as part of an evening, is probably Hamilton's best route. You know, dinner, maybe play a few games, catch a show (music, movie, game, whatever), and then maybe some post-event drinks. The gaming wouldn't necessarily be the focal point. I know that's not going to happen, but I fully support a casino downtown.

I disagree that it would make some sort of a 'dead zone', nor would it attract more addicts as you suggest. Perhaps more vigilant policing would help that, and no statistics back up that claim (see the chief's comments from the meeting earlier at city hall).

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By as (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2016 at 07:40:44

asas

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