Laurentian University economics professor David Robinson recently wrote a paper on casinos titled Casinos As Vacuum Cleaners.

"The OLG operates big-box stores with the sole purpose of making money. The purpose of a casino is to suck money out of communities and give it to the (provincial) minister of finance. Inviting a casino into Sudbury is the economic equivalent of letting the minister of finance put a vacuum cleaner in the pockets of local businesses."

Robinson wrote there would be a potential for the casino to bring in money to a community, but that gets difficult when people don't travel to your city to gamble.

"Money spent in the casino is money not spent in other businesses. The basic result of a casino will be to reduce other business activity. This must be true unless the casino brings more money into the community than it takes out. It is very difficult to make the case that it will do so when the province plans to build casinos in every city."

Robinson, though, argues a casino will not foster economic activity in a neighbourhood where there is a strong business community.

"It is impossible to argue that a casino will have a positive effect on a thriving business district. It will add traffic, but it will not add much business for local business. The additional parking required takes up space. This is not a major issue on the edge of town where land is cheap, but it is a major cost for most communities."

He said adding amenities to a casino may just end up poaching customers from existing businesses.

"When a casino is combined with a hotel or convention centre, there may be a small additional benefit in attracting business from outside the community. This benefit is usually overstated. Most of the business will simply be diverted from other hotels. Visitors to a hotel-casino are less likely to spend in the local community than visitors to a separate hotel or convention centre. The goal of the casino owner is to keep people in the building. Owners will get better at this over time."

Bottom line, he said, is that the city should have done an economic analysis on the casino.

"The first step would be to do an economic impact analysis. That is the basic homework any council should do faced with a major projects that could help or hurt the local economy. Sudbury is one city that has failed to to do its homework.

"Neither council nor the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation (GSDC) has asked staff for a report on the economic impact of a casino in Sudbury. Failure to do a study is gross negligence," Robinson said.

 

 

Downtown businesman Paul Lowenberg said the downtown area would suffer from a casino development.

"I don't feel that we need a casino downtown. The community needs to have a say. That has been taken away by the provincial government. The consent of a community for putting a casino in has been taken away.

"(OLG) can just say, 'Hey, here's a property, you can build your casino.' I don't think that's right. I think the community should have a say, either through a referendum of some kind or at least a stakeholder meeting. I manage two businesses downtown and an arts festival and we haven't been contacted about this at all."

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