Sudbury Casino (expanded gambling) Concerns:
Friendly to Seniors has particular concerns with respect to Casino gambling as Casino operators consider older adults and seniors in particular as a "target market" and as a result this population is at risk, particularly those who may be vulnerable due to circumstances particular to this segment such as being alone, lack of other activities and various forms of dementia plus other factors as described below in this report the full copy of which can be accessed here. The matter has become of interest in the 2014 election campaign with a number of candidates opposing a casino for downtown and some outright opposing any increase of gaming activity which would be involved with a fully functioning casino. Others still are adopting a wait and see attitude hoping that there will be some form of civic amenity provided by the new casino operator. It remains to be seen what the new council under the direction of Mayor Brian Bigger will decide. We are encouraged to learn that in a ballot vote the citizens of Kingston rejected a Casino in that community.
Friendly to Seniors - Sudbury annual Fall meeting featured a panel discussion on the issue of a proposed Casino for Sudbury. On the panel moderated by Friendly to Seniors Chair John Lindsay were (from left to right in photo below) Tom Fortin local businessman, Dr. David Robinson, economics professor, Laurentian University and Dorothy Thomson, retired nurse and board member of Friendly to Seniors. Dorothy who admits to being a gambler, talked about the social costs and that gamblers do not frequent local business. Tom Fortin was also concerned that the majority of casino dollars do not go into the business community, the same message as that of David Robinson who added that there is virtually no prospect of gaining revenue from outside the area. Both were concerned that the local chamber of commerce and economic development dept. of the city had not considered the negative impact of expanded gambling in the city and urged them to do so noting that the city of Vaughn, just north of Toronto had just recently overturned a previous decision to support a casino. See this TV video story on the meeting: http://youtu.be/YVFGzkCCImk
There is general agreement in research and popular media that seniors are one of the fastest growing groups of gamblers. Between the 1970s and 1990s, the percentage of seniors who recently gambled increased from 20% to 50% The most recent data suggests between 65% and 80% of older persons have gambled at least once during the previous year. Reasons, given for why seniors gamble is the opportunity to socialize, to be entertained and to have fun. Seniors also say they gamble to support charitable causes, to relieve boredom, to escape loneliness and loss, and to either make money or hope to make money, the fantasy being part of the appeal. As well, they are attracted to the comfortable, safe atmosphere of the bingo hall or the casino, or attracted to the exciting atmosphere and ‘glitter’ of the casino, or to escape problems and go to a place where they would not be judged and it is acceptable to go alone.
1. Gambling is a ‘hidden problem’ for seniors. Many more seniors are either at risk for having a gambling problem or are experiencing gambling problems than is indicated in prevalence studies and most research.
2. People who work with or for seniors and seniors themselves are concerned about the growing number of seniors involved in gambling activities and the growing number of gambling activities promoted to seniors.
3. Seniors’ organizations are increasingly dependent on the revenues from gambling activities, but there is little understanding of the implications that this has both for them and their members and users.
4. Advertising and promotional campaigns appear to promote gambling much more than caution against it or provide information for those who have problems with gambling. Check this OLG promotion for the 50 plus here.
5. Seniors perceive that the role of the government in gambling activities is confusing, contradictory and disturbing. As one senior said, “the government’s foot is on the gas and the brake at the same time”.
6. Peer support is indicated as the best way to reach and help seniors who are at risk for or who have gambling problems.
7. Strategies and methodologies used in prevalence studies do not always suit the senior population. Seniors are very reluctant to admit to having gambling problems, particularly in a survey.
Friendly to Seniors does not take any position with respect to how people may spend their money. We do not endorse or condemn gambling as an activity itself. Our goal is to present as objectively as possible the economic and social consequences of the establishment of a Casino in Sudbury.
We support the NO CASINO - Sudbury petition and if you would like to sign your name please just click click on the "sign petition" button below and help "make a difference". Sudbury does not need any more money taken out of our economy and the resultant social and health problems.
We have sent the following letter to various influential members, groups and organizations in our community asking for a rational review of the objective findings with respect to the establishment of Casinos in both urban and rural settings. Attached are specific quotes from a report to the Canadian Consortium for Gambling Research plus a link to the entire document. We invite your comments and thoughts as well.
Dear Councillor, Community Group (Private or Govt).
Concerned Casino Citizens call for Evaluation of Casino Establishment - Location
The possibility of the establishment and location of a Casino in The City of Greater Sudbury has caused a number of questions being raised as to the effects on our community, both positive and negative. Concerned Casino Citizens is calling on various influential local organizations and groups to review and evaluate the economic and social consequences of the establishment of a casino in our municipality based on findings by the Canadian Consortium for Gambling Research.
Excerpts from a non-biased report prepared for the Consortium, which are attached, deserve attention from all significant parties in our community including city council, the economic development corporation, the chamber of commerce, downtown development groups, the city planning department, the social planning council, health unit and others interested.
Copies of the complete report “The Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling” are available on the internet on the Canadian Consortium for Gambling Research website www.ccgr.ca. It is anticipated that the findings will be carefully reviewed to determine if and where a casino should be located in our community.
Concerned Casino Citizens is a committee of Friendly to Seniors - Sudbury, an advocacy group for Older Adults that has previously expressed concern with respect to a casino in Sudbury as this segment of our society is often a target audience for casino operators.
John Gaul/John Lindsay
Concerned Casino Citizens Committee
Friendly to Seniors – Sudbury
Attachment: Quotes from the 2011 Report “The Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling” The full report is available on the “Canadian Consortium for Gambling Research” website at www.ccgr.ca.
Quotes from Report “The Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling” (March 2011) prepared for the Canadian Consortium for Gambling Research - particularly relevant to the Sudbury Situation:
The quotes below were extracted from the report and were considered to have particular reference to our Sudbury environment. You are encouraged to review the complete document which presents an unbiased and objective perspective on the entire subject. We are certain that it will increase your awareness of the real and potential consequences of the establishment, many of which are negative, of a casino in our community and where it might be located.
“The introduction of gambling has the greatest potential to have broad economic benefits to the local economy when the revenue comes from outside the area .. when the casino patronage base is from the local area it is much less likely there will be beneficial impacts on other sectors of the economy (ie just substitution effects)”
“One of the potential concerns of gambling is that it may redirect money from wealth producing sectors (ie private business) to sectors not known for wealth creation (ie govt. and charities)”
“If gambling revenues are primarily collected at other than the local level and are redistributed provincially then there is a good chance that there will be a net outflow of money from the local municipality hosting the gambling venue”
“Negative impact on other business have been reported most commonly in studies where gambling patronage is derived locally”
“gambling often has benefits on other non-gambling business when it is able to attract revenue from outside the local area. This is particularly true when the number of visitors is large relative to the local population”
“employment increases in gambling venues, gambling related businesses, or any geographic area will usually occur at the expense of other geographic areas and/or business sectors”
“most gambling industry employment is typically low skilled and low paid .. if these new jobs displace better paid positions in other industries than the employment impacts would be more negative than neutral
“Community leaders in govt and business tend to have a positive attitude about the impact of gambling .. In contrast, the attitude of the general population toward gambling is much more negative”
“In general, consumer engagement in commercial gambling has very little to do with rational economic sense, as consumer gambling opportunities always represent a losing proposition to the consumer”
“Research confirms that lower income people consistently contribute proportionally more of their income to gambling than do middle and high income groups”
“the majority of gambling revenue tends to come from a small percentage of the population”
“Only a small proportion of people typically report gambling is a very important leisure activity or has replaced other leisure activities”
“One of the main negative impacts of gambling is the increase of problem gambling and its related indices (eg bankruptcy, divorce, suicide, treatment numbers ..)”
“It should also be remembered that problem gambling affects more than just the problem gambler as population surveys show that a significant portion of problem gamblers are married and have children and the percentage of people whose quality of life may be negatively impacted by problem gambling is 3 to 4 times the rate of problem gambling prevalent in the general population:
“Continuous forms of gambling (casino) with 24 hour accessibility have greater potential to increase crime”
“Casinos have greater addiction potential because they offer continuous forms of gambling and thus are more reliably associated with increased rates of problem gambling and related indices”
“Casinos have a higher potential for increasing crime than other forms of gambling”
“Casinos like most other forms of gambling are economically regressive”
“Casinos have relatively little impact on overall leisure behavior because they are patronized by the minority of the population”
“Horse racing tends to support a wider range of business than other forms of gambling”
“Although casinos employ a considerable number of people, it may well be less labour intensive than some of the forms it may be replacing. For example, a horse race track not only employs people in the racing sector but also indirectly supports farmers who grow horse feed, as well as the many people employed in the breeding and raising horses (most of whom will usually be in the same jurisdiction as the race track” “Horse racing is associated with problem gambling but not the same extent as other forms and no overall impacts on quality of life have been documented”
In summary it would indicate based on the findings of the report that any short term economic gains would be offset by long term economic “pain” besides other social costs. Over all there would be little economic benefit to locating a casino in our community as we could not draw a significant number from outside the area, especially with casinos in other northern communities, and those located to the south. Also that “horse racing” is the “lesser” of all the various gambling “evils”.
The report can be found in its entirety on the Friendly to Seniors website at www.friendlytoseniors.ca. and also at the Canadian Consortium for Gambling Reseach at www.ccgr.ca
We respectfully urge review of the document and consideration of its content with reference to the consideration of a Casino and its location in the City of Greater Sudbury.
Concerned Casino Citizens – Friendly to Seniors Sudbury
705-507-6037 - www.friendlytoseniors.ca