Complied by Jenifer Alvarez
Today is the last day for citizens of Toronto to submit their comments and concerns to City Hall about the establishment of a new casino.
The online discussion listed on the City of Toronto website, called the Toronto Casino Consultation, was launched in December and officially closes Friday night with the results to be discussed at the next executive committee meeting March 20 at 9:30 a.m.
Dennis Hassell, a freelance scriptwriter from South Etobicoke, said he started doing his homework casinos after he and his wife attended the first public discussion at City Hall.
“We were appalled by the way the event was managed by the city with a mega-casino being presented as a foregone conclusion,” said Hassell.
Hassell attended the Jan. 14 meeting at the Etobicoke Olympium Gymnasium in a Darth Vader costume as protest. He was escorted out of the meeting. He said he started researching to find out more about the effects of Toronto having a new casino.
“Than I started to read up [on] the amount of lobbyists, the amount of money involved, the way the OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation), which isn’t just an agency, it’s a government, act more like a cartel than an agency that serves the public interest,” said Hassell.
Hassell said he is concerned about the impact a casino culture will have on the approximately 3.4 per cent of adults in Ontario who have moderate to severe gambling addictions. Hassell said just because a casino will generate money and jobs for the city, it does not necessarily mean it is a good idea. He also said the public is being bombarded with OLG and lottery commercials.
“We’re already in a scene of gambling and gaming and this is going to make it an epidemic,” said Hassell of the proposed idea.
The Toronto Sun reported earlier this month that Lis Pimentel, president of Unite Here Local 75, which represents hotel and hospitality workers in the Greater Toronto Area, garnered applause when she advocated for a “more balanced debate about what the benefits could actually be for the city.
“We’ve seen in various jurisdictions that if we bring a good casino operator in it can create good union jobs,” she said.
The OLG, which is responsible for creating casinos on behalf of the provincial government, is considering opening casinos in 29 different zones across the province.
Gaming operations already exist in 24 of the zones. The remaining five zones, the downtown, Port Lands, Exhibition, and the Woodbine area are being considered for casino development.