The road downhill for Ontario casinos.

Being a kid when Bugsy Siegel and organized crime put Las Vegas on the world map, I have always been cautious of people who offer the opportunity to risk your gambling money. I always assume that they are not doing it to be benevolent. You have to be careful of your money. As much as I like to gamble, I am always wary.

That was why when I started going to Las Vegas as a young man, I also started reading books on gambling. I learned that there was much more to it than just keeping an eye on the dealer. When I realized that I was going to lose more often than win, I looked for strategies to minimize losses and improve winnings. The wife and I have our rules when gambling and we stick to them.

For the past 25 years, we have been welcomed at Casino Rama near Orillia. We know the dealers, craps crews, supervisors and staff that used to make it such a friendly and fun place. We would often go for dinner and a show, compliments of the casino. That was until Gateway Casinos and Entertainment took over the management of the largest casino in the province. And to add insult to injury, they also took over the nearby Innisfil Slots operations, as it expanded to add table games.

That was also when Woodbine Entertainment put in its temporary casino at the racetrack. The three casinos have gone downhill together. Woodbine hardly cares. Its temporary casino is ugly, unfriendly, cold and uninterested in its customers. In the largest market in Canada, it can always get more. It doesn’t even think it needs to go the expense of offering proper craps tables—and that shows how little these companies know about casinos. It is the craps tables that are the heart of a casino. They are an important draw. The casinos I have known that excluded craps tables did so for racist reasons.

But what is the main draw at any major casino in Las Vegas and around the world is good food. Woodbine is lucky, it has had good food for many years.

But I would advise people going to Rama or Innisfil casinos these days that they eat first. When the Innisfil Casino offers you a free lunch, that is frankly what I think it is worth. Rama’s popular Cedar restaurant has been turned into a low-class hamburger joint with high prices. Better you get something tasty from Tim Horton’s.

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