Do the research on gambling and casinos and you will find discover that it’s all downhill. Casinos have some obvious economic benefits that everyone points to, but I believe the costs far outweigh the benefits.
Take the Akwesasne Casino across the border in New York state as an example. Other than a few low level jobs there, what has the casino industry really done for Akwesasne? First of all, most of the money earned doesn’t stay on the native reserve; it is shipped out and used elsewhere. In casino operations this is standard practice. Sure there will be a few public relations giveaways to the community, but it would be hard to argue that Akwesasne is being revitalized because of the casino. I don’t think so.
More importantly, the social costs of having a casino in one’s community are severe. I am surprised local politicians and business leaders seem blind to this fact. Casinos always bleed money from the people who can least afford to gamble, the underclass and the working poor, who already have a huge challenge in putting bread on the table.
I don’t think we need a casino so retirees can spend a few hours for something to do and blow $100. Let them go elsewhere. I’m talking about people who cannot afford to gamble and will put their families at risk if they do. The odds are in the dealer’s favour. We all know that.
Also, the casino business invariably attracts the seamier side of life. Higher crime rates due to prostitution, hard drug trafficking and alcohol abuse are all part of this picture.
Moreover, the province of Ontario already has a funded program to assist gamblers who become addicted. This is an important reality to consider. Gambling for some people can be just as addictive as cigarette smoking and cocaine use, so why would we go there?
Gambling feeds the illusion that we can all become jackpot winners, and that a casino will help everyone to win big and fulfill their dreams. How can we really fall for that?
Remember that for every big jackpot winner, there are children sitting around their kitchen tables with empty plates. That’s pretty close to the reality and always has been.
I don’t buy the argument that adults can do what they want and therefore should be allowed to go to a casino. While that may be true in part, it doesn’t mean that Cornwall City Hall needs to sign on for a casino, and bring further social problems to this community.
City Hall is charged first and foremost with making decisions that benefit the whole community, but being at the bottom of the line in average family income in Ontario, I think Cornwall needs all of the social assistance it can get- which does not include bringing in a casino.
So I would suggest that City Council discuss this issue soon, and not in a secret meeting, but in one which is open to the taxpayers of this city.
We need real leadership here.