Refuse offer from OLG, council urged 0
Council has been urged to turn down an Ontario Lottery Corporation invitation to seek a land-based gambling opportunity for Midland.
A majority of the 50 people attending a public meeting to obtain residents' views about becoming a "host community" for slots, a boutique casino or other form of gambling facility flatly rejected the idea.
The OLG wants to locate 29 "gaming zones" across the province, each one privately run and capable of hosting slot machines, table games or a combination of both.
While Midland was invited to apply, it does not appear to be on the latest gaming zone map. Mayor Gordon McKay says the town is awaiting clarification.
Only a few of the people at a public meeting at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre last Thursday support gambling in town. Those in favour suggested it might help tourism and create needed jobs.
Aberdeen Blvd. resident Fred Hacker said he understands that in the tough economy governments face difficult decisions about how they are going to make necessary revenues.
But, he noted, the problem is one of measuring what the true economic impact is of bringing casinos into a community.
He cited a report by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission to the U.S. Congress. The report, he said, used analysis from gambling's economic and social impacts to determine whether the cost of gambling outweigh the benefits.
"The only reason I can ever foresee you deciding to bring a casino to this community would be if you thought it would be a net economic gain to the community," he told council.
What I want to suggestion to you," he added, "is that a casino would cannibalize the local economy and result in the net loss of jobs, not a net gain."
As The Free Press reported last week, the move to expand gambling would mean more slot machines, more casinos and more gambling revenue for the provincial government.
However, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says it isn't an expansion of gaming in Ontario.
"It's not about expanding, it's about better optimization of what we're doing," Duncan said, after the OLG unveiled where it wants to locate 29 "gaming zones" across the province, each one privately run.
Most of the 29 proposed gaming zones already have an OLG-run facility, but the corporation wants out of running them in favour of private-sector firms. Pending local approval, new casinos or slot palaces could go to the GTA, Kenora, Collingwood/ Wasaga Beach, Belleville and North Bay.
OLG officials have said no slots or video lottery terminals would be allowed outside regulated gaming sites. The OLG and the government hope the gambling reset will increase revenues by $1.3 billion a year by 2017-18.
Municipalities must consult the public and hold a council vote before approving a casino. The matter will come before the town's planning and development committee, then council in June.