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The debate of “should gaming exist in our community or not” has already come and gone. With slot machines at Woodbine Race Track for more than a decade, buses ferrying people daily to Fallsview and Rama, and being able to play poker on a laptop from the comfort of your home, gaming is available and accessible to anyone who wants to participate. In fact, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission welcomed 39 million visitors to its various locations last year.

As to a casino’s potential in Toronto — it would be a job creator and tourism attractor. Properly situated and sized, a casino would be a significant new addition to Toronto’s tourism infrastructure that includes professional sports, music and entertainment, theatres, museums and galleries, restaurants and clubs. A casino will immediately be able to tap into the already existing Toronto tourism market of more than 10 million overnight visitors annually and has the potential to add to this number.

What casinos are not is a tax on stupid people or corrupt enterprises that prey on the poor. While this might be great rhetoric, it isn’t backed up by the facts. Research shows the average casino player is slightly older, wealthier and better educated than the general public. They may not dress in evening clothes like the people did in Monte Carlo in the 1950s and ’60s, but then, neither do the people who go to the ballet and the opera.

So then, what will the likely outcome be for the city? Will it be a positive experience? For an answer it is instructive to look at the outcomes of casino development elsewhere.

Research of community leaders in U.S. jurisdictions outside of Nevada with casino gaming were asked that if they could go back in time, would they do it all over again? Fully three out of four said that they would vote for casinos, citing the positive benefits on their communities — additional tax revenues, jobs, secondary economic development and contributions to community and charitable organizations.

A casino would be a positive new addition to the tourism infrastructure, and could be a catalyst in driving further economic development and enhance overall tourism, revenues and jobs in Toronto.

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