A casino in Toronto – or anywhere in the GTA - is a sucker’s game
Toronto city council should call Paul Godfrey’s bluff and send his casino somewhere else.
Godfrey, who’s the boss of the OLG, has warned that if city council doesn’t approve a casino in Toronto by early next year, he’ll pack up his slot machines, craps tables and roulette wheels and find some other chumps in Markham or Vaughan.
Brother Paul says it’ll create 6,000 construction jobs and 12,000 permanent jobs, a wildly optimistic bit of math being used as a sales pitch to gullible politicians and citizens.
It’s like the shell game in Times Square, where tourists are duped into betting on which bottle cap has a pea beneath it, not knowing that the pea fell off the edge of the box when the front man started swirling the caps.
The weakness of Brother Paul’s cards has already been exposed, as if they’ve been flipped over in the middle of a poker hand.
The big gaming operators have told local media that they are interested only in building a beautiful clip joint on the downtown waterfront.
By their own admission, the farther they end up from downtown, the less interested they are in setting up shop at all in the GTA.
As for the thousands of tourists who will swarm into Toronto to dump their money into our fabulous “destination” casino, you must think you’re playing poker with kids, Paulie.
Where are these tourists coming from?
More than 40 U.S. states now have casino gambling. Ohio is the latest to succumb, with a shiny new palace that opened in May on Interstate 75 in Toledo, and three others ready to open any day now.
I was in the Hollywood Toledo Casino last Thursday night at 9 p.m. (I get around) and you could have fired a cannonball through it.
To say that the American gaming market is overdeveloped is an understatement.
Does anyone honestly believe that many people will fly into Toronto from overseas to play at our casino, instead of a true tourist destination such as Las Vegas?
There is substantial evidence that there are no benefits from a casino to businesses in the surrounding community. Check out the forlorn business district around the Windsor casino, which is starved for customers, or the wasteland around any of Detroit’s three mostly vacant casinos.
And there is only so much disposable income out there. Every dollar blown at a casino is a buck less that is spent in a restaurant, or on running shoes for kids.
The vast majority of any casino’s customers are locals, which brings me to the cynical heart of Brother Paul’s play.
The big gaming operators’ real interest in Toronto is our Asian community, the largest in North America.
They look at it like the old lumber barons gazing upon a vast stand of virgin timber.
It is gospel in the gaming industry that the best customers are Asian. The affluence of our Asian community makes it even more attractive.
Not enough of them will get in a car or bus and go to the OLG clip joints in Niagara Falls or Rama, so let’s bring the clip to them.
To do otherwise is to leave money on the table, eh Paul?
City councillors should keep their hands in their pockets when the smiling stranger in the black sedan comes calling, except to vote no.
He’s lucky I’m not on city council to ask the hard questions.
Let’s go heads-up, Paulie, you and me.
I’ll bust you out, Brother.