We are getting ripped off by the Gatineau Casino

We are getting ripped off by the Gatineau Casino
Posted on August 22, 2013 | Ottawa Taxpayers' Advocacy Group | Written on August 22, 2013

Dear Mayor Watson & Ottawa City Council,

In a very short while you will all be asked an important question with respect to the possibility of a second Casino in Ottawa. I wanted to reflect on the Health Boards position and remind each of you to put it into proper perspective. While there can be no question that gambling has a social cost to it, the same could be said for similar vices. Alcoholism, smoking, even Gentleman's clubs come at various expenses and as a society we are expected to absorb the impact in one way or the other. Bingo, Card tables, slots, even lotteries feed on human weakness and various social programs are available to help folks deal with it.

I am no pro-gambler, though I do enjoy the odd card game, that said the economic benefits to the city through revenue sharing has got to be exciting to some of you who may be thinking twice on voting for additional debt on future projects.This fund will naturally help pay for gambling addiction for the new facility as well as the existing ones, including those who go to Quebec. Lets think about that for a moment, I inquired recently with a facility that treats gambling problems and when asked to pull a name out of a hat they pointed at the Gatineau Casino as a main source of their business. I am sure that others are there but it seems that Ottawa Taxpayers are paying an overwhelming share of Gatineau's Casino social costs.

The prospect of a Casino is not a vote people look forward to, but Casinos have helped balance the books in several similar municipalities. The city of Winnipeg as an example has three Casinos, they have not raised their property taxes in many years. Is the revenue enough of a reason to say yes? Are the new jobs enough motivation? Probably not, but remember that if you say no to a new casino you are actually saying yes to treating Gatineau Casino patrons with their addiction problems. Furthermore, with their expansion under way, its fair to say that we will see more of their customers soaking up our resources.

If Ottawa were to be put in a proper competitive position we would have the resources to continue treating Quebec's vices and pay for our own as well.  As a bonus, you would have all sorts of new cash to play with as well.

Just remember, voting no does not fix Ottawa's gambling problems nor does it pay for any of them.

Thank you for everything you do for this great city!

Kevin MacDonald, President
Ottawa Taxpayers' Advocacy Group

To read more letters on the casino issue in Ottawa, please visit: http://bit.ly/13CGOZg.

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Thank you for sharing your letter Kevin. The casino is a very contentious issue for Ottawa residents, and one that should be discussed and debated at length, not only by politicians but also by voters.

The problem I have with the new casino plan for Ontario that OLG put forward last fall, is that gambling is being promoted by our government. ie. The provincial government is encouraging people to participate in a vice despite all the evidence we have that says gambling is a bad thing for individuals and families alike.

In his April OpEd in the National Post, Rex Murphy hit the nail on the head when he wrote about the perils of governments promoting vices: http://bit.ly/ZOT49l.

Its one thing to collect taxes from gamblers. I don't have a problem with that. But, its quite another to encourage people to gamble in order to raise revenue for governments. Its inappropriate and something I find to be unconscionable.

We can do better.


James, consequences aside, my point here is that we will be fundamentally paying for those same consequences out of our existing envelope without having the proper revenue to support it. It is a similar parallel if a Montreal drug addict came to Ottawa to have their problem covered by Ottawa Taxpayers. Bottom line, say no to an expansion and we still have to fork money over to fix Quebec Casino patron addiction. Nobody wins....James, we cant sit around and critique city council over there spending habits and not encourage new revenue when its available. Is a Casino ideal ?? not a chance, but weighed against a billion dollar debt, I think we can live with it, even though it sucks !

What I'm suggesting is that there are other alternatives that can achieve the same objectives without the provincial and municipal governments stooping to promoting a vice simply to generate revenue. Governments shouldn't prey on their inhabitants. Taxing all gambling, for example, in a privately run casino could bring in the same amount of revenue while also removing our governments from the delivery of gambling services through a casino.

But, the debate now is whether or not Ottawa should have one or two casinos. One is enough for me.