Multi-faith leaders lend support to anti-casino movement in Sudbury
City council to vote Tuesday on rezoning land proposed for Kingsway Entertainment Centre
More voices have joined the anti-casino movement in Sudbury, just as city council gets set to vote on the Kingsway Entertainment rezoning issue.
More than 30 faith leaders across the city oppose the plans for an expanded casino in the eastern part of the city.
They say they will join Casino Free Sudbury and the Downtown Business Improvement Association in their appeal of the municipal decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
City council is scheduled to vote Tuesday night on the rezoning of the land on the Kingsway proposed for the entertainment district.
Chris Duncanson-Hales represents a group of 36 local faith leaders, and says their opposition is to the casino itself, not the entire project.
"Pathological gambling affects people and it causes marriage break-downs. It has ripple effects out of social impacts into the community, that go beyond just that one person who is gambling," he said.
"But we're also concerned with justice," he said.
The location of the proposed casino is also of concern for Duncanson-Hales. He says it's close to both subsidized housing and a seniors' residence.
"That is the most vulnerable. It's not going to be the most money that the casino makes, but it's going to have the biggest impact," he said.
"We don't think governments should be profiting from the financial ruin of others."
Increased gambling = social impacts
Bishop Marcel Damphousse of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste Marie, represents 97 Catholic parishes from Wawa to North Bay.
He says he's joining the anti-casino movement because of the social problems and gambling creates in a community.
"You're mortgaging your house because you're out of money and you think you can win it back by going to the casino. That becomes a moral issue. You're not looking after your family anymore," Damphousse said.
Damphousse is also concerned that money would be directed to the casino, instead of non-profit groups or charities.
"The money is going to this one source and it's not being redistributed to the community as it is right now. This is detrimental to [the] community," he said.
"I would be pretty confident that most of the Catholics here have concerns about a casino being build here in Sudbury."
Who is the real winner?
The Sudbury Interfaith Dialogue is made up of people of different faiths. Reverend Dave Nichol is the coordinator of that group.
He says gambling creates a lot of social and personal problems.
"There is a general perception that when you win, you've won the casino's money. You've beat the system," he said.
"In reality, you've just won money from the guy sitting beside you. The winner goes home with somebody else's money, and all too often somebody who can't really afford to lose that money," Nichol added.
He is concerned city council is forging ahead with these casino plans, without looking at future implications.
"Although the taxes and the jobs might look good, the bulk of the money, the biggest chunk, is going out of town to, I suppose, the owners of the casino," Nichol says.
Broad consensus forming
Duncanson-Hales says the faith leaders joining the anti-casino movement gives it more weight.
"There's a broad coalition forming," he said. "There's a consensus among people who are concerned about this," he said.
"For Casino Free Sudbury, for the faith community leaders it has everything to do with our community and with the fact that we don't need a $60 million expansion to casino gambling in Sudbury."