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.