Article published on 21 November 2012

Public Health Against New Toronto Casino

Caesars Contradicts Conclusions about Toronto Casino
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Toronto's Public Health has voted 9-1 against the construction of a new casino in the Canadian city, citing health risks associated with gambling.

A report, drafted by the city's medical officer of health, Dr. David McKeown, states that Toronto should not allow the expansion of gambling, but also suggests 10 mitigating measures that should be negotiated if the plans go ahead anyway.

"This report leads to a very, very simple conclusion. And that is that we should not, as Torontonians, allow the expansion of gaming in our city," said Councillor Joe Mihevc who ordered a motion that the OLG shouldn't be "invited to expand gambling in the City of Toronto."

The ten measures include not allowing ATMs or alcohol on the gambling floor and mandating a daily loss maximum for gamblers.

The only member of the board to vote against the motion was Kristle Calisto-Tavares who said: "As a citizen, I fell like I don't have enough information to say yes or no to a casino at this moment."

Public Health Casino Decision Criticized

Many came out against Public Health's decision regarding a new Toronto casino, including the Canadian Gaming Association and Caesars Entertainment, which is in the running to operate the resort.

The Canadian Gaming Association said that the ten measures adopted in the report were "without basis, misguided and perhaps counterproductive."

Caesars Against Public Health

Caesars Entertainment also called on the city not to reject the idea of a casino based on social concerns, and criticized Public Health against Toronto casino plans.

"In laissez faire economies we tend not to restrict access to something that is consumed safely by the vast majority and restrict it because of its unsafe consumption by the very few," said the Chief Executive of Caesars, Gary Loveman.

The CE also spoke about the report's recommendation that a casino could increase the rate of addiction among citizens.

"Most of you in this room who are not addicted to much of anything would never be likely to develop an addiction to gaming, whether or not a casino is in Toronto," he said.

Loveman also challenged the report's claims that gambling preys on those from lower socio-economic groups.

"Casinos are luxury goods," he said. "They are not something that anyone has to have, they are something that's nice to have if you enjoy it. Not surprisingly, those who enjoy it the most are the most able to afford it."

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