No to casino, group says

University District

Outrage sparked by plans proposed for casino construction

No Casino Kingston, a local group, is against the opening of a downtown casino.
No Casino Kingston, a local group, is against the opening of a downtown casino.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, a Crown Corporation of the Government of Ontario, has proposed the construction of a casino in the heart of downtown Kingston.

According to No Casino Kingston, a majority of Kingston residents oppose a local casino due to potential negative social, economic and financial impacts on the community.

No Casino Kingston is an organization designed to support Kingston’s economy and discourage the construction of a casino.

“The [Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington] Public Health report points out that increased access to casinos grows the prevalence of both problem gambling and pathological gambling,” the No Casino Kingston website said.

The site said that casinos will increase the number of citizens with financial difficulties, leading to an increase in criminal behaviour, marital conflict and abuse, child neglect and abuse, poor health, mental problems, substance abuse and suicide rates.

“Research indicates that casinos work best when located in somewhat remote, somewhat economically disadvantaged locations. Revenues arrive primarily from outside the community, and social ills return home after the visit,” the website said.

Kingston City Council is now deciding on whether or not to approve a new casino. According to No Casino Kingston, casinos create a strong profit rate and strengthen economies of cities in destination locations, but this wouldn’t be the case in Kingston.

Sandra Olney, professor emeritus of the Queen’s University School of Rehabilitation Therapy, is a founding member of No Casino Kingston.

“From my understanding there will only be one casino in the region. If it were here then the Gananoque one would be relocating,” Olney said.

The town of Gananoque, 20 minutes from Kingston, is fighting to keep its local 1000 Islands Casino.

The casino built in Kingston would be considered an urban casino, meaning the majority of the clientele would be locals.

“There is a difference in the financial impact on the city depending on the clientele.

“If they are Kingstonians, then it takes directly away from available cash and what people spend in the area.

“That seems to be what the case would be here,” Olney said.

Olney said that business at local shops and restaurants decreases with the creation of a casino, as the casino provides the same luxuries without patrons having to leave the premises. With this, there is a decrease in job availability that won’t be accounted for with the provided casino jobs.

“There are some things one might do if you feel they have merit, and yet they also have other problems. I can see no merit [in casinos] but I can see that it causes a whole lot of other additional social problems and those are really severe,” Olney said.

“From my point of view they are the most severe to the most vulnerable.”

Her husband, Andrejs Skaburskis, a Queen’s professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning and a fellow founding member of No Casino Kingston, is interested in the “financial implications of the added policing and social service costs created by having a casino nearby,” according to a statement he provided to the Journal.

“This is called the tax on poor and the effects are likely to differ among different socio-economic groups,” he said in a later interview.

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