A casino in Ottawa?

I’m not a gambler… never been very good at it so gambling, for me, is akin to throwing my money into the fireplace. And I don’t even really like establishments like casinos or slot machine facilities. The atmosphere is plain weird and the damn places are as noisy as hell!

But I don’t have anything morally against them. Some folks find them enjoyable and gaming facilities can provide a solid revenue source for the province and the local municipality. Plus, they employ lots of peeps, there are economic spinoffs, etc., etc. All good stuff.

Now Ottawa’s Mayor, Jim Watson, has signalled that he is in favour of considering an application to the province to site a casino in Bytown.

Mayor Jim Watson says he’s tired of seeing gamblers in the city head across the border to place their bets at the casino in nearby Gatineau and is beginning a process that will see the public weigh in on the idea.

The Casino du Lac-Leamy complex is one of the region’s key attractions and a money-maker for Quebec’s gambling corporation and its sole shareholder, the provincial government.

The resort is home to a casino — Quebec’s second largest after Casino de Montréal — along with a Hilton hotel, restaurants and bars, a spa and a convention centre.

In the first three months of its fiscal year 2013, gross revenues from the gambling operations at Casino du Lac-Leamy topped $61.1 million, according to Loto-Québec’s financial statement.

The Montreal casino generated $116.4 million in gross revenues for the quarter while Casino de Charlevoix rang in $12.7 million and Casino de Mont-Tremblant saw $4.7 million.

Watson says after initial public comment, the city will vote on a casino report and then possibly approach the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., followed by more public meetings next year.

Watson argued Ottawa is losing millions of dollars from gambling money streaming across the Ottawa River to Gatineau.

And I agree. Keep some of that money on this side of the river! And I am especially keen now that the Péquistes are again in power in la belle province.

But be careful, Mr. Watson. You and the rest of Council must seriously look at the impacts – social, economic, and environmental – that a casino would have before you commit to anything. As I understand it, the decision to go ahead with the preliminary application is going to be taken at next week’s Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting. And there has been no public consultation, no staff reports, no research, nothing up to this point.

And, ya know, I’m sort of OK with this too as long as it happens before a committment is made and contracts signed.

One thing I will yell from the rooftops though:

Don’t put the damn thing in the boonies like you did with the arena!

THAT was a boneheaded decision if I ever saw one!

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One Comment to “A casino in Ottawa?”

  1. Chris says:

    The only thing that benefits from casinos are the casinos and government coffers. A lot of the money generated by casinos goes right back into the casino for expansions and improvements. The money the government gets usually goes to debt reduction, not general improvements that help local citizens. Casinos are just another way to tax the poor. A few people will be employed by the casino — maybe, but they’ll be paid minimum wage or maybe a little above. The well-paid jobs will go to skilled professionals brought in from elsewhere. How many expert black-jack dealers are there in Ottawa? Casinos don’t train. AND people who go to casinos don’t go as part of a happy family tourist excursion — they go to gamble…so they’re not spending one red cent in the community. If they stop to eat, they’ll eat at the casino. If they’re staying overnight, they’ll stay at the casino. Please go check out Niagara Falls, Windsor and other communities that have had casinos foisted on them and see if you can spot any sort of community benefit. This isn’t even taking into account the increase in crime casinos generate and the toll on problem gamblers — usually the poor.

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