Getting OUR Slice of Vice

In my little corner of the world, the hot topic is how to get our hands on a casino. It started when the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission released a “finding” that this area was “under-serviced” for, I suppose, ‘gambling products’.

It started slowly enough; my municipal counsel put forward, and passed, a resolution that they’d be “open” to consider hosting a casino in our area. In short order, so did two other councils from neighbouring townships. A third made it known they didn’t want to host a casino, but wanted their “fair share” of the benefits (now known as the British Columbia sharing formula).

The OLG has now concluded one of its p.r. roadshows in this area; extolling its virtues as the watchdog for “responsible gaming”. The mayor has proclaimed that, one town hall meeting having been devoted to getting resident input, the fact-finding part of the exercise is now complete and council will now “consider” whether to formally ask OLG for a casino permit.

I’d hazard a guess that the “deliberation” is something of a foregone conclusion; the estimated municipal ‘cut’ from the casino is $2M annually. NO politician is going to find the ‘negatives’ outweigh the prospects of having that kind of ‘extra’ cake to spend (without having to raise it through taxes).

So, now, the only real intrigue is around how the competing municipalities will go about kicking the pins out from under each other. (As with all things related to money, expect some blood to flow.)

All this lusting after the cash, however you want to see it, obscures a pretty fundamental question: Have we “evolved” to the point that casino gambling is now considered an municipal “essential”; is it on par with roads, sewers and schools? I, for one, think we could do just fine without this service. And, contrary to the way opponents of casino gambling are characterized, I’m not even a church-goer.

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