Kingston, Ontario – The government of Ontario’s proposal to carve the province into 29 gaming areas is an exercise in expanded exploitation according to Kingston & The Islands Green Party candidate Robert Kiley.
Based on Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) figures, 41% of all gaming revenue comes from a smaller sub-group of gamblers defined as “problem” and “pathological”. Slot machine statistics are starker: 76% of revenue comes from this sub-group who spend 10 to 20 times more than the average gambler.
“It’s disgraceful that the government is trying to increase the profitability of these soon to be privatized casinos on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. It is in effect a “desperation tax” on gaming addiction. Government can and should be better than this in order to balance a budget – this shows a disturbing lack of leadership and creativity” said Kiley.
Last year OLG spent approximately $ 300 million dollars to promote gambling in Ontario – a marketing effort that will likely increase substantially with privatization.
In October 2012, Kingston City Council passed a motion to advise OLG that it was interested, in principle, in being a host municipality for a new gaming facility. The decision was met with resistance by many local residents, the Downtown BIA and some academics who cited the negative social and economic impact of a casino.
Retired Queen’s University economics professor John Allen noted at a recent lecture that no cost-benefit-analysis had been completed at the time of council’s decisions – just a somewhat biased “benefit” analysis with an extremely wide variance in revenue projection. Allan also noted another study that indicated gambling activity increased 90% within 10 miles of a new facility.
Added Mr. Kiley: “I am committed to working with community organizers and concerned citizens on this issue. The more information Kingston residents receive about the implications of casino gambling the more it will become apparent that it undermines efforts to be sustainable and prosperous. At the very minimum we need local referendums on whether or not casinos should be introduced into communities across the province.”