Will Casino Rama Be ‘Voted
Off the Island’ Next by OLG?
By AWAKENING STAFF
Recent developments show that Casino Rama could be next on “the list” and become another victim of more misguided, unfair government policy.
But before we get into that, let’s briefly step back and consider that, in Canada, various examples of social engineering showcase the lack of respect the farming community of the past is afforded.
For instance, the government’s gaming policies have tended to harm the culture and income of the harness horsemen—who are a remnant of the nearly extinct family farm. Our farmers of the past included our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and neighbours, many of whom made sacrifices in Canada’s wars and peacekeeping efforts.
Many risked or sacrificed their lives to protect a society which was supposed to grow under a democratic rule of law, as well as maintain its moral compass. That means that public referendums—the machinery of our democratic process—should not be overturned, for instance.
So, let’s return to Casino Rama and related gambling developments. A recent edition of the local newspaper Orillia Today included a story about “competition” endangering Casino Rama’s profits and possibly its existence.
However, a government gambling monopoly isn’t really competition in the usual market sense. At the end of the day, since the OLG ultimately controls both tribal and general gambling enterprises, whatever “competition” exists is simply one OLG-regulated facility “competing” against another OLG facility.
But due to OLG installing slot machines in the horsemen’s Woodbine venue—with the OLG using the horsemen’s gambling licence to gain entry—referendums in which the public turned down proposals for such gambling facilities are being overturned. The voters in the Toronto area, where Woodbine Race Track exists, need to be aware of this, as do all Canadians.
The authority over Ontario’s casinos, as stated, is vested in Ontario’s government. It plans to operate Casinos in the future in the most profitable fashion possible. That may include shutting down what little remains of the horsemen’s own gaming activities, thus eliminating competition under the roof of the OLG’s own casinos.
If the past is a reliable guide to the future, purse money to the harness horsemen will eventually be cut off completely—once the OLG decides how many more licenced race tracks can successfully accommodate their own in-house casinos.
Apparently, Peterbourgh’s Kawartha Downs race track will be building a casino in the near future. But a referendum is not required in Peterbourgh, being the OLG will move into the region, again, “riding the saddle” of the horsemen’s licence.
What’s causing the tribal leaders at Casino Rama the most concern is this “competition” from Woodbine Race Track (as well as from a similar Niagara-area facility). We at THE AWAKENING understand that Woodbine is planning to increase the number of its table games, which is a dimension of gambling that has been possessed only by Casino Rama.
Table games are especially important to Casino Rama’s existence, as former dealers have confirmed.Besides, to the vast majority of gamblers who like table games, and who live in the greater Toronto area and other high-population areas, the task of driving another two hours to Casino Rama won’t make much sense.
Let’s get real. Who wants to enjoy a couple of drinks and be forced to drive back home and risk being pulled over by police and possibly charged with a DUI? Casino Rama’s hotel may not always have vacancies, and some gamblers won’t want to spend more money on a room in many, if not most, circumstances, especially when new alluring options present themselves to satisfy gamblers.
So, just like what’s been happening to the horsemen, Casino Rama may be next in line to be “voted off the island,” as it were.
Casino Rama does have its place as a significant local employer of some 2,000 people. But while gambling certainly has its positives and negatives, the government is simply working to shift gambling to another place in society—which would punish the greater Orillia area. All told, the OLG, which of course controls all gambling, also wants all the spoils of gambling while continuing the unsavory practice of giving big-city interests in Toronto more and more of “the pie,” while leaving small towns in the lurch.
If we’re going to have gambling be such a sizable part of economic life, let’s be equitable about it, otherwise its negative social effects will outweigh other considerations.