CORNWALL Ontario – As I was investigating a lead on the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne being in talks with the Federal Government about acquiring Crown Lands in nearby Long Sault to create a Casino and entertainment complex with Chinese financing I discovered some disturbing facts about the impacts on Casinos on neighboring communities.
We investigated that Chief Brian David and others from the MCA visited China to discuss funding, and that a possible connection exists between the Cornwall Harbor Divestiture discussions.
The problem with “secret” discussions on issues concerning public tax dollars is that we never know what happens until it’s too late.
For the record that MCA did not deny Chief David’s trip to China or the talks. They just stood ground with a polite “no comment” response to our several questions.
The scuttlebutt was that Hamilton Island was originally the plan; but that Crown Land in nearby Long Sault went into play after the Trillium Distribution Cornwall Inc. scandal put everything in play including a possible land swap involving the Dundee land claim and NY State even being involved.
Time will bear out what happens, but in the meanwhile several stories have hit media about the impact of casinos on their communities and the lack of economic development spin off.
The nearby Akwesasene Mohawk Casino for example has had a dramatic impact on nearby Cornwall Ontario. Our economy is suffering as many seniors spend money their limited disposable income at the casino that would otherwise be spent in our community. The concept of casino experiences are gamed towards seniors. No windows, no clocks, the depth of lighting and cocooning feeling lead to comfort while each visit takes chunks of money from them.
Across the street from the casino lies the empty former IGA store showing that the casino really has no direct impact. While it hires employees to work there monies sucked from the community lead to losses of jobs. Looking at the empty stores in Cornwall and anecdotal stories from area businesses the local dollars are going somewhere and in a city with such a high level of seniors the casino plays a big factor. Heck even Mr. Cornwall Chuck Charlebois can be seen in front of the machines at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino regularly.
The current casino has very few possible positive spin offs for Cornwall with very few if any dollars coming back to our city.
Having a casino in Long Sault could bring a whole new load of issues for this region.
The Atlantic wrote an interesting piece on the impact of casinos on communities by Canuck David Frum. LINK
No one should look to the gambling industry to revive cities, “because that’s not what casinos do.”
Until the late 1970s, no state except Nevada permitted casino gambling. Then Atlantic City persuaded its state legislature to allow casinos, in hope of reviving the prosperity of the battered resort town. Hotels sprung up along the seafront. Thousands of people were hired. And the rest of Atlantic City … saw no benefits at all. All these years later, it still has desperate trouble sustaining even a single grocery store.
Spin off effects?
The impact of casinos on neighboring property values is “unambiguously negative,” according to the economists at the National Association of Realtors. Casinos don’t encourage non-gaming businesses to open nearby, because the people who most often visit casinos do not wander out to visit other shops and businesses. A casino is not like a movie theater or a sports stadium, offering a time-limited amusement. It is designed to be an all-absorbing environment that does not release its customers until they have exhausted their money.
Nor do casinos help nearby property rights. Add in the cost to communities in some excess crime as well as caring for those who develop gaming addictions and it looks like having a casino in your back yard is like, well rolling craps.
Before the 70’s Las Vegas had a near exclusivity on gaming. Then Atlantic City entered the game and it seems now that almost every region in the US and now growing in Canada have added casinos. Mix in online gaming into the situation and that’s a lot of entities vying for the dollars for games that most people really understand is stacked against them.
PBS also had an interesting piece on legal gambling in the US LINK
the legalization of gambling activities eventually causes: (1) increased taxes, (2) a loss of jobs from the overall region, (3) economic disruption of other businesses, (4) increased crime and (5) large social-welfare costs for society in general and government agencies in particular. For example, two studies of the riverboat casinos in Illinois concluded that for every one job created by the riverboats, most of the surrounding communities probably lost one or more jobs from pre-existing businesses (Grinols 1994; Grinols and Omorov 1995).
Looking at the history and growth of the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino clearly shows that they are harvesting a lot of dollars; dollars that are not being shared with communities and businesses close to them.
It might be time to discuss this before adding another casino to this area. The most disturbing issue with this current possible situation is that the Trillium deal hid behind Crown Lands not having to follow provincial or municipal laws. The people and municipality had no say in what was built; how, or impacts to our own infrastructure, and enviornment. Would this casino be constructed in the same framework?
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