Brantford is a city near and dear to my heart. I grew up there in the ’90s and my mother still works there. I took swimming lessons at the Wayne Gretzsky Centre, summer days were spent biking the paths by the Grand, and I’m still trying to find a pizzaria place that makes a panzerotti the way Gigi’s Pizza does on Colborne. If there was someone who had a reason to visit Brantford, it would be me.
Unfortunately, despite the revitalization of the downtown core. There is really no reason to go… except maybe the panzerotti, although I certainly haven’t trekked out there just for that.
Brantford is not a tourist destination. It wasn’t before the casino and it wasn’t after. People don’t travel for gambling, that’s one myth we really have to put to bed. Although places like Las Vegas may be know for gambling, the truth is they have a lot more going for them as tourist destinations. First and foremost great weather that us Northern types like to escape to in cold winter months but it is literally bursting at the seems with shows, attractions, top rated restaurants, an extensive nightclub scene and not to mention a reputation for an easy location to get hitched (or divorced.) Brantford is no Vegas.
And Toronto isn’t either. No one is going to travel to Toronto because they now have casino in addition to the Skydome. It won’t happen. Best case scenario is that we’ll poach Casino Rama or Niagara region day trippers. Not to mention poor Woodbine Racetrack. Casinos are not new, or novel, or exciting. In today’s landscape, they just are.
Not surprisingly other benefits are over-hyped as well. Ford has been stumping on jobs since the beginning, but his numbers of 10,000 permanent jobs are inflated to say the least. For comparison there are only 33,000 people employed by the casino industry in Atlantic city, when there are 12 casinos. That’s under 3,000 per casino for those doing the math.
Of course, it speaks to the sadness of this economy when we are chasing jobs in bartending and housekeeping services. These jobs also don’t necessarily offset the severe damage we’re doing to the horse racing industry. Several raceways have already had to close. Woodbine has already made cutbacks to staff. A few thousand jobs here for how many lost on the track? Veterinarians losing business? Horse breeders losing their livelihoods? This isn’t a job gain, it’s a job shift, at best.
Lastly we have revenue. Which again, have been hyped to the max. Up to 148 million dollars… annually. Apparently a reporter in Niagara Falls had quite the head shake on that one… considering with two casinos operational, that city brings in 3 million a year. Not a typo there by the way, not thirty million, certainly not three hundred, just simply three million dollars.
Now I certainly wouldn’t sniff if someone wanted to dump that in my bank account every year, but I’m also not a metropolitan area of over 2 million people.
Toronto maybe able to ask for a premium over Niagara Falls for hosting a casino but the numbers being presented to the public are sheer fantasy.
If you want a casino, lobby for a casino; but don’t try to sell tax payers on obvious falsehoods.