The name seemed familiar. Michael Warren was the same guy who had worked for the Ontario government at Queen’s Park. You would think he got in enough trouble when he tried to run the Toronto Transit Commission. When he offered to change Canada Post into a profit making corporation, you thought that was more challenge than anyone would want. Yet Warren tried. Now in an op-ed piece in the Toronto Star, he is telling us not to gamble on gambling.
It is like sitting at a blackjack table anywhere in the world. If you speak the language, someone at the table will eventually tell you what an expert they are. You have been sitting there watching this guy make the same bet 35 times in a row and he is telling you he is an expert on gambling. Never having seen Warren gamble, we will suspend disbelief and hear what he has to say.
He sees the recent Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) plans as a cash grab. While OLG’s planned growth of 75 per cent over the next six years might be ambitious, it could be done if casinos were more conveniently located and Internet gaming became popular.
Warren is particularly concerned about the Responsible Gaming Council’s figure of 3.4 per cent of Ontarians being ‘problem gamblers.’ He is also concerned that we might be encouraging young people to gamble when they are old enough. He says that the young people between 18 to 24 years already have the highest rate of problem gambling. He does not give us a source for that statistic.
You get the impression reading this ‘opinion piece’ that Warren is not in favour of legal gambling. It might surprise him to know that there are others in this world who might not be interested in gambling. And nobody is forcing them to go and gamble.
What he needs to understand is that there is a demand for more gambling centres in Ontario and they need to be upgraded. They need to be part of overall entertainment and recreational areas. We should encourage that model. We should also encourage a more competitive approach because that is the only way you will really know what the public wants. And, God forbid, we should leave gambling under the control of government people such as Michael Warren used to be.
Copyright 2012 © Peter Lowry
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