Toronto casino could put Windsor jobs, tourism in jeopardy
3.6 million people visit Windsor annually, 1.9 million are American
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation said changes are coming to Windsor within the next five years.
The OLG's Rod Phillips said Windsor as a region has been underperforming but would not specifically speak about which — or whether both — gaming facility is slipping.
Phillips said, "where it makes sense, we'll have slots at racetracks" but he didn't rule out cutting the number of slots at Windsor Raceway.
Phillips said there won't likely be new slots facilities added in Windsor because "customers are well served" with the supply from Caesars, Windsor Raceway and three casinos in Detroit.
Caesars the city's No. 1 destination
An official with Tourism Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island says a Toronto casino will most definitely have an economic impact on the local gaming and tourist industries.
Gordon Orr said it's too soon for him estimate just how much it will cost the area but said that any competition will siphon dollars away from not just the two gambling facilities but the region as a whole.
Orr said Windsor welcomes 3.6 million visitors a year, 1.9 million from the U.S. Caesars is the No. 1 tourist attraction for the city, he said.
Orr said he wishes Toronto wasn't getting a casino, since Canada's largest city already boasts so many tourist attractions and destinations.
But a University of Windsor political science professor said gambling is much too lucrative for the government not to chase. It quickly adds more money from more sources.
"It’s an easy source of revenue at a time when you don’t have an easy source of revenue, especially in Ontario," said Cheryl Collier.
Ontario's manufacturing sector is still reeling from a recession and the government is desperately trying to balance its books.
"Here’s an area you can turn to. It’s not taxes. I can’t see why a government would turn it down," Collier said. "But once you go down the road it’s really tough to get off of it."
Collier said gaming is something that can increase "when there aren’t a lot of pots of money out there."
Dave Cassidy of the CAW, which represents approximately 2,700 unionized Caesars Windsor employees, doesn't think Windsor can support two gaming venues.
"This economy will not warrant two gaming facilities," he said.
Cassidy, like Orr, said tourism and the local economy will be negatively affected by a Toronto casino.
"The Casino generates a lot of downtown business, let's not kid anybody," Cassidy said. "There is a lot of spinoff jobs in our downtown core. And it expands even farther. In the county, people might go on the winery tours."
However, he said single sports betting will save the Windsor casino and possibly add jobs.