Sunday, February 03, 2013
It's a Gamble
Three former Toronto mayors David Crombie, John Sewell and Art Eggleton have penned an open letter to city council arguing against a proposed casino for the city. This comes in the midst of pitches by major "gaming" conglomerates who arrive in TO, gush over what a beautiful city it is, and explain how the riches will pour into the city and province from a casino which will have no negative impact on society. No matter that the millions of dollars in revenue seem too good to be true or that experts assure us that they are over-inflated. No matter that these are for-profit corporations who have no real interest in the community other than making money. Gold, gold, gold!
In the letter the mayors offer: “Toronto is not about to become another Las Vegas, a tourist gambling destination. And we wouldn’t want it to. Much of the casino revenues are likely to be generated locally by taking away from other games of chance and lotteries. There are already enough gambling opportunities. We say enough is enough. Governments shouldn’t be expanding gambling opportunities as a means of balancing their budgets. A commercial casino operation is not in Toronto’s best interest.”
Can I get an "Amen" brothers and sisters? I put "gaming" in quotes above because this is not about fun and games. This is what we used to call gambling, and it is already pervasive in our society. I know that a fair number of you buy lottery tickets or spend a few bucks at casinos on trips. So what is the fuss?
I can tell you from firsthand experience as a pastor that gambling destroys lives and families, and it is the big lie to characterize it as just another leisure activity which is a win-win, providing social services and community centres. Yes, the majority of people can handle a little recreational gambling. But that minority can be devastated by its consequences, and our United Church has always been agin it. It is also a lousy way to tax people.