Friday August 29, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Survey results are meant for general information only, and are not based on recognised statistical methods.




Time to cash in?

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Estevan residents have learned a little more about one of the most polarizing issues in the community – the potential for a new casino to be constructed in or around the city.

But for many people, their minds are already made up, regardless of the information provided by the Little Pine First Nation at a community forum on April 15.

The proponents will claim that a casino makes perfect sense for Estevan. It'll provide a significant boost to tourism in the community, and it'll enhance entertainment options in Estevan.

Some erroneously claim that there is nothing to do in Estevan. (The night of the meeting, there was a celebrity hockey game featuring former NHL players against the Bienfait Coalers, and the highlights and awards concert for the Estevan and District Music Festival. There's a lot to do in Estevan).

Casino supporters also game such a venue would expand the gambling options available. Not only will there be the usual assortment of mind-numbing slot machines, but there could be craps, blackjack and poker. There might even be a sports book outfit.

More entertainment and more activities will be good news. Right?

Not according to the detractors. They'll counter that the economic spin-off generated by the tourism boost is dwarfed by the social problems created by gambling addictions. Now, there are already VLTs at a number of bars and licensed lounges in the city, but casino critics believe it will cause the number of gambling addicts to soar.

After all, there'll be more options for gambling, and more ways for people to develop gambling problems. You'll have people with lots of disposable income gambling their paycheques away at a blackjack table or a roulette wheel. They'll be spending their weekends, statutory holidays at the casino, trying to make a quick buck.

And the casino opponents will wonder why it's needed in Estevan, when there is a casino 75 minutes away in White Bear.

Both sides are actually right. Estevan would enjoy a considerable economic boost from a casino. And there would be a significant social toll.

Little Pine has every reason to target Estevan for a casino. It makes good business sense. Estevan is a community with a lot of money and a lot of disposable income. We've seen casinos constructed in smaller centres, such as Swift Current, Yorkton and North Battleford.

It's surprising that it hasn't been brought up previously.

If it does happen, it won't be for a few years. And it's good that meetings are taking place, and that there'll be a non-binding question on the April 23 civic by-election ballot about the project. If there's overwhelming opposition, then the project might not happen.

But the discussions about the development won't end on April 23.


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