We all know who the people are who will tell you what is sinful or wrong with having a casino in your town. The most vocal are the bluestockings, afraid you might have a little fun, and the hypocrites who know nothing about gambling. They are the paternalistic politicians trying to stand out in their negativity and they are the bureaucrats who do not want to be bothered.
The truth is: people gamble. Some gamble more than others. There are also people who see no sense to gambling and they are entitled to their opinion. For the rest of us, gambling starts at a young age. It is buying that first lottery ticket with a prize you want and liking the feeling of believing you can win. It is the rush of the first time you ever shout “bingo” in a church basement. It is the thrill of playing poker for the first time, for real money. It is that first wide-eyed visit to Las Vegas, where gambling is king.
The thrill of imagining your possible winnings in lotteries has morphed into a multi-billion dollar industry in Ontario—run by the government. What started as a way to compete with the Irish Sweepstakes has turned into a nationwide industry. And what must have started as a totalizer on the chariot races in the Coliseum has become a world-wide network of racetrack betting. There is a time-honoured tradition in Canada of the office pool for lotteries and hockey games. We support the 50-50 draw to raise money.
And yet we let hypocrites in public office tell us if we can or cannot have a casino in our town. Ontario Lottery and Gaming has made an open offer to cities and towns throughout Ontario to have a casino. Our councils shilly-shally and shame us. They offer public consultation and listen to the wrong people.
Here in our town, we can add the local Medical Officer of Health to the naysayers. It is reported that he sent a letter to the mayor recently saying that problem gambling is linked to alcohol and drug misuse, mental illness, hypertension and digestive-system disorders. And to make matters worse, he adds that associated social harms include bankruptcy, family disruption, and possible involvement in crime.
The question that comes to mind is whether this man is lacking meaningful challenges in his work? Surely his job description does not include paternalism.
It is further reported that he said in his letter to the mayor that there are a large number of low income people in this town. He quotes a figure of 2,300 families. He worries that they may be put at risk. At risk of what? They obviously would not have the funds to become habitués in a casino. Would they be at risk of getting jobs? Would they be at risk of having their high municipal taxes reduced?
Our municipality has the amenities. It needs the breadth of activities to attract people to come here. A casino can be an excellent year-round addition to the mix.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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