Matthew Green: CasiNO - Let's be clear about what this is NOT
This is NOT about "NIMBY" or whether we should have a casino in Hamilton.
It is about what is best for Hamilton as a whole. Our elected officials in city council voted on April 6, 2012 to support the expansion of gaming at the existing Flamboro Downs site.
This is NOT about tourism.
Hamilton is perhaps the "city of waterfalls," but Niagara Falls we are NOT. One of Hamilton’s core strengths is our 45-minute proximity to Niagara Falls and Toronto, both of which are already world-class tourist destinations.
Niagara Falls currently hosts two charity casinos with another directly across the border. Toronto is in the same public debate on whether to expand large-scale operations in the downtown in their city. With Brantford in the mix, we are surrounded by existing competing casinos. The target market the OLG is after already lives in Hamilton.
This is NOT about job creation.
The projected employment numbers that the OLG placed in "the hundreds" including construction and related startup employment pales in comparison to the loss of our horse racing industry representing 3000 associated jobs already in existence in the community of Flamborough.
This is NOT about economic development.
Comparative examples of like-sized cities with urban casinos report limited economic benefits to the surrounding areas. Casinos by design are meant to keep (customers) in house and gambling.
David Prang, chair of the Brantford Downtown BIA, said in a recent CBC Hamilton article, "The casino itself is the destination. We're not seeing a whole lot of spillover."
This is NOT about HAMILTON.
We are not the belle of the ball on this one. The OLG is pushing its "modernization agenda" across the province to any city willing to entertain it. This includes a move to increased table games of which the municipalities do NOT receive a share in the revenues for. With 26 existing casinos/gaming locations and counting, this is a provincially-concerted effort ensuring that the "house always wins."
Matthew Green is the CEO Integrated Active Living Inc. and owner of Freestyle Fitness on Ottawa Street North. He is also a member of the South Sherman Community Planning Team. Green is a panelist in CBC Hamilton's live chat: Should Hamilton take a gamble on a casino?