Don’t bet on a casino: 3 ex-Mayors to city council

- January 30th, 2013

City Hall is gearing up for the great casino debate in the next few weeks. Three of Toronto’s ex-mayors – David Crombie, Art Eggleton and John Sewell – have teamed up to tell Mayor Rob Ford and city council not to bet on a casino.

Here is the letter they released today (full disclosure – Art Eggleton seems to have provided it exclusively to the Toronto Star yesterday):

 

January 30, 2013
The Mayor and City Councillors
Toronto City Hall
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
We are former Mayors of Toronto who believe that it is not in our city’s best interest to establish commercial casino operations in Toronto.
In the years we served in office, we saw countless proposals that proponents said would bring the city big revenues, many jobs, and much prestige. And some of them did, but beware the sales pitch. The numbers don’t always add up, and we think that is a real possibility in this case. Revenues can be inflated and costs such as police services and traffic congestion underestimated. In fact, extensive research in the U.S., carried out by Earl Grinols, professor of economics at Baylor University, indicates that for every $1 in benefit, there is a cost of at least $3. These costs are reflected in infrastructure costs, higher regulatory expenses, additional policing and criminal justice costs, and larger social welfare expenditures.
A Canadian study by the RCMP in British Columbia has also linked increased crime to casino gambling, noting that “members of organized crime also use casinos for criminal purposes such as loan-sharking and money laundering”.
And how will local businesses in and around the Casino be affected? According to some studies, not too well. Casinos want to keep you in the building, not roaming to outside restaurants and other establishments in the community. They have their own restaurants and shopping facilities to keep you inside. In Atlantic City many restaurants have closed near the casinos, leaving a few pawnshops and cash for gold stores.
It has been suggested that a casino shouldn’t be in a residential neighbourhood. But look at downtown Toronto and almost anywhere else in the city. Condo development is putting residential communities everywhere.
The social costs of gambling must also be taken seriously. It preys on the poor and those vulnerable to addiction. Problem gambling is already an issue. A commercial casino in Toronto will make it that much worse. Studies indicate that where casinos go, so go increases in poverty, homelessness, gambling problems, suicides, drug/alcohol addictions, and crimes by those feeding their habit. Not only are the gamblers affected but so are their families, their kids.
Toronto is not about to become another Las Vegas, a tourist gambling destination. And we wouldn’t want it to. Much of the casino revenues are likely to be generated locally by taking away from other games of chance and lotteries. There are already enough gambling opportunities. We say enough is
enough. Governments shouldn’t be expanding gambling opportunities as a means of balancing their budgets. A commercial casino operation is not in Toronto’s best interest.
Sincerely ,
David Crombie, John Sewell, Art Eggleton

Categories: Politics

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3 comments

  1. Ron Lyner says:

    Well its nice for theses old mayors to speak up but lets look back when they were in office a ttc ride was 4 tickets for a 1.00 Eatons and Simpons ran the santa claus parade. What I’am trying to say is time are changing and if we don’t change with them we will not move forward and will die. Mississauga is waiting in the wings for Toronto to say they don’t want it and were will it be built right on the boarder between Toronto and Mississauga. Vaugan is also intrested in a Casino. So is Richmondhill and what about Markham there build the new arena and a casino would look good beside it. No I feel that the city of Toronto has to move forward if you support it you can go to it if you don’t stay away.

  2. Kroberts says:

    Ron,

    For Toronto to “Move Forward”, we do not need a casino.

    Toronto is already moving forward by inviting to world to take in our culture; we have World Pride coming this year which will attract more people than a casino could ever bring to the city in a lifetime, we have shows opening in Toronto (Aladdin is coming!), the Toronto International Film Festival, the Taste of the Danforth, the Caribbean Festival, countless music festivals (TD Jazz Fest, Beaches Jazz Fest, NXNE, Canadian New Music Week etc.) I could go on and on… THESE are the things that make people want to come to Toronto. these are the kinds of entertainment vehicles that move a city forward.

    A casino on the other hand is the complete opposite of this, a casino will not drive people to Toronto -you even said yourself that it could easily go in Mississauga (though, they’ve already said quite explicitly that they don’t want one and will not endorse one) or anywhere else in the GTA – why would people come to a casino that could be built anywhere? Moreover as this letter and many other sources state; casino’s do not strive to bring a community together, they compete with the surrounding community – locking people in darkened rooms all day until the community that used to be there is reduced to a slum.

    Toronto is moving forward, Casino’s are an antiquated tax on the poor from the past and not in the best interests of this city. Maybe it’s time for you to move on, Toronto would do just fine without you and your outdated ideas.

    Peace and Carrots,

    Kate

  3. david burgon says:

    Although we have had mayors of questionable abilities in this city, I agree with the former mayors who wrote a letter to the present mayor, city council and citizens of Toronto.
    Downtown Toronto is already clogged with buildings, entertainment venues, and the flow of traffic of an evening will be worse than rushhour. Can you imagine when Roy Thomson Hall, the Royal Alex, Princess of Wales, Rogers Centre, and if a casino is built downtown, what the congestion would be like of an evening? And where is the parking
    going to be placed.
    Although it is said that a casino will not turn Toronto into a Vegas, people being people, leaders being leaders of various abilities, decision makers being decision makers, will walk away in years to come, and like little Jack Horner and his plumb will quote, “What a good boy, I am”

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