Friday, 14 December 2012

No casino in my back yard please!

I have been doing a bit of looking around and I have found some more information on casinos and their impact on the local area.  I also found this site which is informing people about this casino project (that's where I found to mouse trap image).  Please go over to the site and learn more about what is going on there.

I have also learned that OLG is trying to move the casino in Hamilton to a more downtown area and there has been a facebook group created to oppose that project.  There is a very lively discussion there as well with a lot of interesting information including this image:
While reading more on this topic of gambling and casinos the most popular voices from the support of casinos can be summed up in the following statements:

  1. Gamblers will go where the action is no matter what any health, counselors or anyone else for that matter. May as well be here so we can reap the benefits.
  2. If people might destroy their life due to gambling so we should not allow it then also we should not allow smoking, drinking or eating fat/sweet food.
#1. The question of benefits is a good one, here is a quote that I have found in a few places but couldn't verify 100%:
"In Atlantic City, within 4 years of the casinos opening, 40% of the city’s restaurants closed as did 1/3 of the retail businesses."
The reason for this was that the casinos became the "only game in town" and began to expand to include eating facilities and merchandise shops killing any other small market business.  Gamblers also prefer not to leave their gambling site if they don't have to.  Building a casino anywhere in Woolwich is not going to help any surrounding business.  This is not sustainable growth and development.  Being a resident of Breslau I see the township routinely overlooking us for services despite our rapid population grown.  We don't have a library, pool, arena or any other funded recreation facilities, and now they think Woolwich's big contribution to the Breslau area is a casino! I am thoroughly unimpressed.

#2. Now the question about what behaviors and products should be controlled by government and which ones shouldn't is much more difficult to answer.  However, this is why we have public debate and why all opinions should be heard and discussed so that the residents of the areas where these products are provided should be able to collectively decide.  The decision should also ensure that the community has been engaged and a large enough proportion of the residents (not just respondents) should be in favour of this project.

  • Smoking is a very highly controlled behaviour because it doesn't only affect the health of the smoker.  It also affects the health of all those around the smoker by second hand smoke.  Cigarette packages also have strong warning messages on them informing the smoker regarding the behaviour they are engaged in.
  • Drinking and alcohol are also very tightly controlled in Ontario with sales only permitted in certain licensed establishments.  Servers of alcohol and there place of work can be found criminally responsible if they over serve a customer and that customer gets into there car and gets into an accident.  I don't know if the law extends to the black jack dealer in a casino in the same way.
  • Fast food / unhealthy food choices are slowly becoming more regulated as well, where more nutrition information needs to be made more available.
The reason that these 3 behaviours are regulated by government is because of the potential to addiction and thus significant health problems. For those of us who do not suffer from true addiction we have a hard time trying to understand what it means.  For others it is a very real and very significant problem.  Problem drinkers, gamblers, eaters and smokers do NOT choose to have this problem.  Yes, they may have made poor choices earlier to get to the problem stages, but they don't choose to loose all their money at a card table, they don't choose alcoholism that destroys their lives, they don't choose to constantly smoke despite the fact they can't breath.  Mental health addiction is just as sad as cancer and if I can do something /  anything to prevent even one person from that I would.  Just as I would do anything to help someone avoid a cancer diagnosis.  Before people discount this and say, people should be free to do whatever they want, lets consider the argument of a publicly funded health care system.  You pay for the health care of others, I would rather pay for the prevention of these types of problems instead of creating a catalyst.  A catalyst that will increase health care costs as well as costs of other social programs.
"The evidence shows that the closer you live to a casino, the more likely there is to be gambling and problem gambling" - Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s medical officer of health (Proximity feeds addiction: Richardson).

To close I offer you this document Position Statement by City of Toronto Medical Officer of Health.

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