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October 22, 2013

Rose Simpson: What would Donald Trump do about Ottawa's gambling dilemma?

Rose Simpson's column appears every Tuesday morning on the OttawaStart Blog. She also blogs at Rose's Cantina

My son Stef called to say he'd had a successful trip to Vegas.
He won a $2,000 slot jackpot on the first night which basically paid for all his entertainment for the rest of the week.
"Mum, you can't believe the place," he cooed. "There was an actual Venetian canal that ran through our casino."
Funny, in Ottawa, there is a horse track that runs around ours.

Las Vegas was built in the desert and millions visit it and lose their shirts every year.
Ottawa's casino is in a cow pasture and its revenues are declining.
That's because casinos in the U.S. are run by the mob, 'er, business people.
In Ontario, they are not run. They are controlled by the government. 

I saw the other day that city counsellors were pissed that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission will be controlling the number of slot machines that are placed at Rideau Carleton. There are a few councillors who want a say in this process.
My question is: what do city councillors know about the gaming business? For that matter, what do bureaucrats at Queen's Park know about the gambling business?
Squat, I say.
That's why The Watson Gang TM have opted to only allow gambling in the cow pasture away from children and bus riders. How the hell do you market that?
I mean, loo, at the Casino de Lac Leamy in Quebec. It has fountains, and showgirls. It owns peoples' houses!

Rideau Carleton has harness racing...and bingo.
And a cold egg breakfast for a dollar.
If Donald Trump -- who knows a few things about gambling -- were mayor of Ottawa or Premier of the Province of Ontario, he would do things differently. That's because business people do things differently than the do-gooders who run for public office.
Donald Trump would have slot machines every where. And there would be beer in grocery stores.
That, my friends, is a fact.

Instead of grappling with the dilemma of how to fund nursing homes, Donald Trump would build them around gaming houses and let people live there for free.
What else do people have to do at the Perley, other than smoke and wait to die?
Give them a new way to spend their Old Age Pensions!
Oldsters are the real market for casinos anyway.
Take a trip out to the cow pasture and look at the demographic at Rideau Carleton. Ninety percent of the people who are there are over the age of 65. The rest are problem gamblers wearing diapers and leaving their kids in parking lot.
Donald Trump would do away with hospital lotteries and put casinos in the Ottawa Hospital.
Why not? The hospitals are being funded by casinos and lottery tickets anyway!
I don't see what the whole problem is with putting a casino in downtown Ottawa.
Or at The Canadian Tire Centre.

Melnyk is right. He wants to fund hockey with gambling.
Rod Bryden wanted to fund it with taxpayer's money -- like the rest of his businesses.
Now I know what you're saying.
We need to stem the tide of problem gambling in this country.
But Donald Trump would say there is no point doing so. People already do a lot of gambling online. People can catch a plane to Vegas like Stef did or just go across the river to Hull (yes, I know it's Gatineau but it still looks like Hull to me).
That poor church in Ottawa lost all its revenue to Lac Leamy when Father Joe gambled away the donation plate money. But we could have kept that money in Ottawa!

Look I was a problem gambler for a while. I was.
How did I stop?
I lost all my money.
Problem solved.
Seriously, I'm sure the mobsters, or the Trumps of the world, or the Melnyks would be happy to fund our entire society on the backs of losers.
We're already doing so, anyway.
So why not put the business in the hands of the professionals?

-- Rose Simpson, with photos from from Scott Troyer.

See also: Ottawa Media Guide
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