If you build it, the players will come.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming boss Paul Godfrey used to be a politician. He knows that if he is going to find the location for the Toronto area casino, he has to pit the area municipalities against each other. Each of them wants the jobs and tax revenues and they need the tourism.

But Paul also knows that you have to let politicians posture for the voters. It can be as ignorant and simplistic as alluding to some mysterious dark and evil side to gambling and as complex as weighing tax advantages against pressures on existing infrastructure. That is not Paul’s concern. He is trying to meet the revenue demands of his political masters at Queen’s Park. The province needs the money.

Politicians who think they are serving their voters by railing against casinos are more often, unwittingly, helping criminal elements continue their illegal gaming establishments in industrial and banquet hall facilities throughout the Metro area. Legal casinos can be policed. Illegal casinos are an invitation to trouble.

But, in many ways, for a politician to stand Canute-like to stem the tide of the public demands for pleasure palaces is just plain dumb. There are smart politicians in the Toronto area waiting to eat Toronto’s lunch. Markham, Mississauga and Vaughan all have land available for a gaming cum entertainment complex if Toronto does something stupid and leaves the opportunity for others.

Nobody argues that a prime location will be the west half of the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. A second favoured choice is the existing Woodbine Entertainment grounds in Etobicoke. Shoehorning the casino and other amenities into the existing Toronto Convention Centre would probably be a very dumb and overly expensive idea.

Mind you, expense is not a concern that is on the plate. It is the need to ensure that any monies coming into the endeavour are clean and legitimate come first. Apropos of some remarks made recently to the Charbonneau Commission in Montreal about Ontario organized crime, we certainly need to be vigilant about that.

It will be a shame though if we cannot find Canadian entrepreneurs for the casino and entertainment complex undertaking.  To send profits south will be a shame.

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Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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