We’ll it looks like Castlegar is in line to get a Cashino, (must have been a Freudian slip!). Cash seems to be the view that council has about the proposal, at least that’s what I get from reading the local newspaper, (sorry, no online edition here!), but I’ve quoted the best bits.
For a city surrounded by natural beauty, rivers, lakes, fishing, biking, hiking, golf, skiing, snowmobiling, it’s hard to imagine why we’d need another reason for people to come here, particularly one that is at odds with nature. It’s not natural to sit indoors in a sensory overloaded room staring at a slot machine for hours on end. On the contrary, it is intentionally addictive, they want you to stay there to blow even more of your money.
Also, check out the end of the article for the real reason Castlegar was selected, tell me it’s not true! I challenge you! Then vote for yourself on the real reason in the poll!
BC’s Newest Casino?
Now, when I say, “in line” to get a casino, apparently there is a selection process by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. Hang on, a competition to work out which city is going to get the right to host a casino. A bit much don’t you think. Perhaps they should have started with community input, rather than ending with it? Here’s a snippet of the news…
“The selection of the City of Castlegar is the first milestone in BCLC’s process for choosing the most appropriate location for a community gaming centre,” said Marsha Walden, BCLC’s Vice President of Bingo Gaming. “The City must now review a development proposal from BCLC’s service provider and obtain community input.”
What’s a gaming centre? I’ll spell it out C-A-S-I-N-O. No euphemisms please, just the facts please Ma’am. Games are things you play at home with your kids like scrabble and snakes and ladders, or things you play outside like soccer or baseball. Why don’t they call it a Gambling Centre, that would be more accurate really.
Can’t wait for the public forum on this one, I thought the water meter sessions were fun, maybe it will even go to a referendum?
What the Mayor Said About the Proposed Castlegar Casino…
Mayor Chernoff did say that the city would put some money towards gambling addiction problems if they arise. “We’ll put some money towards that… We’ll look after the public, we’re not here to hurt or harm families. We’re here to provide another source of entertainment to the West Kootenay.”
Council hasn’t decided how it will spend it’s 10% take of slot machine revenue. “It’s a nice chunk of money that will surely help the city in things that we want to do … it won’t go to a specific thing … we’ll try to create some more opportunities. Who are we helping in the long term? The taxpayers and that’s what we are trying to do.”
Castlegar Current, Thursday, July 19, 2007 p3
Spoken like a true salesman! Just because some one wants to “give you money” so to speak, doesn’t mean you have to take it! How about waiting to see what the public say before you work out where your ten percent is going? I mean maybe he has done his own research, and figures that the majority of the city want a casino, but most everyone I’ve spoken to about it thinks the idea is bad.
What really disappoints me, is that rather than shooting from the hip, the city should have prepared a press release regarding this matter, with a carefully worded response to the news. Casinos may offer holiday destinations, entertainment and a level of employment, but they can also destroy lives.
I couldn’t decide between the Casino Simpsons scene or the monorail one to represent the problem … So you get both. Enjoy, (then keep reading!) More after the jump…
Someone suggested to me the other day that I start compiling all of the evidence that casinos are not all they stack up to be. The glossy brochures that I’m sure the city officials receive would suggest that the economic benefits far outweigh any problems that the city may face. What is the city planning to do when we get even more drink driving cases from a new casino? We’ve already experienced a six-fold increase in drink driving charges from 2005 to 2007…
Staff Sergeant David Fayle informed the Castlegar City Council members on Monday night that there have been alarming increases in liquor related offences this last year, and the West Kootenay is an anomaly when it comes to impaired driving cases.
In the first six months of 2005, RCMP saw a total of 14 impaired driving charges, and in the first five months of 2007, Fayle says there has been 87 charges laid.
Source: Castlegar News
Even the Wall Street Journal Published an article condemning the practice of state-run gambling in the US, a copy of it is available here.
I’m not an expert on gambling, or problem gambling, but there are many people dealing with this problem everyday, and for sure there are already people in our community that have a problem. Lets do a bit of a browse on the web…
If we go with the BC statistic of 0.4% of adults having a severe gambling problem, we’re looking at around 20 people in Castlegar alone, (not counting surrounding regions that are within driving distance). If we go with the statistics from Illinois, at 3% of the adult population, that’s 120 people. And how many more with a moderate problem?
My question to the mayor and council. Are you willing to “bet the farm” on over a hundred relationships, marriages, homes, and even lives?
Here’s some links and quotes to have a think about on the issue… (emphasis mine in all cases)
The BC Lottery Corporation…
According to independent research conducted recently in BC, 0.4% of adults have a severe gambling problem while another 4.2% have a moderate problem.
A CBC report.
People who make $20,000 or less spend an average of $211, or 2.6% of their income, on gambling activities.
People who make more than $80,000 average $497, 0.6% of their total income.
Source: Statistics Canada
From the Plan Philly Website
Goodman argued that while casino destinations like Las Vegas draw tourist dollars from other states, Philadelphia?s casinos are likely to suck money mostly from the local economy, drawing dollars away from local eateries, bars and other venues. Atlantic City, Goodman claimed, lost 40 percent of its restaurants and a third of its businesses in the years after casino introduction.
From an Illinois Addiction Recovery Organization…
Current estimates suggest that three percent of the adult population will experience a serious problem with gambling that will result in significant debt, family disruption, job losses, criminal activity or suicide.
Pathological gambling affects the gamblers, their families, their employers and the community. As the gamblers go through the phases of their addiction, they spend less time with their family and spend more of their family’s money on gambling until their bank accounts are depleted. Then they may steal money from family members.
At work, the pathological gambler misuses time in order to gamble, has difficulty concentrating and finishing projects and may engage in embezzlement, employee theft or other illegal activities. IIAR works with employers to offer a comprehensive program of evaluation, treatment, counseling and support for employees and their families.
From The Canadian Safety Council – Gambling and Suicide…
No one knows exactly how many compulsive gamblers end up taking their own lives in Canada. The Canada Safety Council believes the number is over 200 a year. For every suicide, five gamblers with self-inflicted injuries could end up in hospital. Gambling addiction is also linked to a range of other serious personal and social harms such as bankruptcy, family breakup, domestic abuse, assault, fraud, theft and even homelessness.
The profits from government gaming operations are almost $13 billion nationally, but the costs of gambling addiction are not known. Some of these could be quantified, including medical care, policing, courts, prisons, social assistance and business losses. However, no simple dollar figure can measure the devastation to the lives of those affected by pathological gambling….
The Canada Safety Council believes strategies are urgently needed to reduce deaths, injuries and other harms resulting from the expansion of gambling. As with other safety issues, there will be no magic bullet. Solutions will involve a combination of measures, including public education, preventive use of technology, counseling and treatment programs, well-enforced regulations ? and above all, a strong social commitment to prevent gambling addiction.
From Wikipedia – Problem Gambling…
According to a variety of sources, the prevalence (i.e., extent of existing cases) of problem gambling is 2-3% and pathological gambling is 1% in the United States. For comparison, about 7% of Americans have an alcohol problem . Gamblers Anonymous has estimated that about one in twenty gamblers eventually becomes a problem or pathological (compulsive) gambler
The Next Steps
The power is in the hands of the people. The facts should be fairly presented to council, and by council to the public. This is a major decision for the community and council, it’s not just a bit of extra cash; we are talking about changing the dynamics of the community in so many ways, and once invoked, there is no going back. We’ve got more to offer the world than a casino, there’s plenty of those out there already. Do we really want to be giving more of our hard earned cash to the government and wealthy casino operators?
Casino operators talk of it as entertainment, but they wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t think they could make some serious money off it. Do we really want to play into their hands?
Let’s see what the community comes up with, sign whatever petitions are required, let council know that it’s not OK to play roulette with our community. I’m sure there will be a public forum on this one announced soon, let’s hope it goes a bit better than the Simpsons Monorail Meeting.
The Real Reason…
After many hours of pondering the matter, I finally worked out why Castlegar has been selected for consideration as a site for BC’s newest casino. Are you ready for it….
It’s because in winter, the airport service is so unreliable (hence it’s nickname Cancel-gar), people visiting will be forced to stay another night or two, or three! Of course the casino wouldn’t find that appealing, now would they?