No winners here

The fact that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is about to privatize some of its operations does not sit well with me. First of all, look how well Ontario’s previous privatization effort worked with Hydro. In the case of the OLG, the negative impact on individuals could be even more serious.

Let me explain. The first tortured reason OLG casinos came into existence was to attract tourists. That may have worked for a while in Niagara Falls and Windsor, but the nearby states – New York and Michigan – now have their own fleecing houses. As for the other sites, I never could understand the “tourist” argument. Out of curiosity, I have visited casinos in Brantford and at Mohawk and the majority of players looked like seniors who lived nearby. Worst of all, nobody appeared to be having any fun.

This new privatization deal is all about expanding the facilities at Woodbine as well as erecting a new casino somewhere in downtown Toronto. I can’t imagine that very many tourists will be drawn to the city by either outlet no matter how many chandeliers are hung. If I’m living in Cleveland, am I really going to drive six hours to a new casino at the former site of Ontario Place? Most bridal groups will still go to Vegas.

More casinos in the Toronto area will simply mean more local addicts and more unhappy households. I already know people who regularly blow their pension cheques on the slots and other video bandits. The fact that OLG is creating the conditions for even more such vacuum cleaners shows they don’t care about the social outcome. Just like those poor fools who line up to play.

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