When I Think of Casinos…

When I think of casinos, at first, I think of James Bond in the casino, beating out the bad guys in a game of poker. Then I think about the opportunity it might give artists, providing a way to make a living performing and providing entertainment. As of right now, these are the only advantages that quickly come to mind.

Despite the potential benefits, thinking of a casino in Toronto gives me the chills, and can’t help wondering about the disadvantages a casino might bring to a community. The downsides are many. There is well-established research that illustrates the negative impact that casinos, and particularly gambling, can have on individuals, family and the community in general. In economic terms, often the owner of a casino benefits the most.

Torontonians and other potential tourists already have access to a casino in Niagara Falls (Casino Rama), a location that is placed away from, but still accessible to the city centre. Additionally, as quoted by commenter in a recent Globe and Mail article, “why do we want more casinos when we already have one in Bay Street?” By advocating for casinos we are compromising livelihood, encouraging gambling (instead of that arts, I might add) and promoting easy and quick solutions rather than working towards the long-term plan of the city seriously. What cultural legacy do we want to leave to our children?

Discussions on the no side to casinos are being circulated on social media and disseminated throughout the GTA community, but officials don’t seem to be listening. It is typical of politicians and tricksters to seek easy solutions to cash in on profits while they are in power, disregarding the long-term effects that establishments like casinos can pose. Once a politician’s term is up, many leave the city and retire comfortably, leaving their mess behind. Then, Ontario Taxpayers are stuck with the bill to clean up the economic mess and are asked to pay more taxes to cover the social failure that follows a casino. Decisions to “save” the city from the burden of debt are made by lazy, short-sighted, and often greedy officials who only think of their Chin-Chin winnings and not on the long-term Oops-Oops losings of the community. I wonder if city officials have a backup plan for the increase in gambling addiction amongst residents. That is, how does the city plan to manage the addicted gamblers that the city itself will be creating?

It’s time to advocate for officials who have tangible approaches to solve the critical issues faced by our city. Quick fixes and easy solutions are not the answers to our economic scarcity. One would hope that our leaders will start paying attention to the voices of their community and realize that Torontonians don’t want the casino that their trying to sell us.

Let me be straight forward: I don’t want a casino in my community. Why don’t we talk about the arts and its possibilities instead? What about a cultural centre instead? What about Harbourfront as a cultural scene? Research shows that in 2009, for every dollar the city invested in arts and culture, cultural organizations were able to leverage a total of $17.75. Isn’t this a better investment?

Read more:
Toronto casino consultation gets strong turnout from No side, The Globe and Mail, January 9, 2013.

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