Special Report: Casino

A Gamble Worth Taking

We should be betting on the power of Hamiltonians and their indigenous, creative, and productive enterprises that are already revitalizing our city.

By Jeff Strong
Published February 12, 2013

In his book Culture Making, author Andy Crouch shares five diagnostic questions that all leaders should address when evaluating a "cultural artifact":

  1. What does this cultural artifact assume about the way the world is?
  2. What does this cultural artifact assume about the way the world should be?
  3. What does this cultural artifact make possible?
  4. What does this cultural artifact make impossible or very difficult?
  5. What new culture is created in response to this artifact?

If we take Crouch's five questions and apply them to the cultural artifact that is a casino, and substitute "Hamilton" for "the world," we gain a new set of questions that enable us to think about the casino issue in a deeper and more meaningful way.

  1. What does the proposed downtown casino assume about the way Hamilton is?
  2. What does the proposed downtown casino assume about the way Hamilton should be?
  3. What does the proposed downtown casino make possible?
  4. What does the proposed downtown casino make impossible or very difficult?
  5. What new culture will be created with the addition of a downtown casino?

Using these five questions as a filter, I can find more than enough grounds on which to reject the proposal for a downtown casino in Hamilton.

Concerns

First, I'm not convinced representatives of the pro-casino position have adequately reflected on questions 1 and 2. This concerns me.

Secondly, while representatives of the pro-casino position have addressed question 3, their responses have been shockingly uniform and myopic: more jobs and money for the city of Hamilton. This disappoints me.

Finally, I see no evidence to indicate that representatives of the pro-casino position have even considered questions 4 and 5. This truly terrifies me.

Without addresses each of these five questions thoroughly, the pro-casino position amounts to an all-in, high stakes gamble where the stakes are Hamilton's downtown core and those who live there.

That doesn't sound like a gamble I'm willing to make.

No Sure Thing

That being said, I recognize that pro-casino advocates could just as easily push back on my position by insisting that it's just as much of a gamble to reject a downtown casino and the immediate infusion of financial investment it would bring to the downtown core.

I see their point. After all, despite what people may say, there is no such thing as a "sure thing." While it's true that some decisions have the odds stacked in their favour, in life one learns very quickly that playing the numbers will only get you so far.

That's the burden that lies at the heart of every major decision: you can do your homework, crunch the numbers, and arrive at a decision point with confidence that you're about to do what's best and right...but you still need to make a decision.

And that decision is always a (risky) step into the unknown. To that extent, all decisions of significance are a gamble of sorts.

So if I concede the point that there are risks inherent to both sides of the debate, one final question remains: who are we betting on?

Power of Hamiltonians

Are we betting on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and its (unsubstantiated) promises of "fame and fortune" for our city? Or are we betting on the power of Hamiltonians and their indigenous, creative, and productive enterprises that are already revitalizing our city?

Pro-casino advocates have demeaned and dismissed the so-called #casiNO movement - the loose coalition of Hamiltonians who are opposed to a downtown casino - for being out of touch with the "obvious" benefits of a downtown casino. But in the process, they've tipped their hand as to who they're betting on: a corporate giant that offers hollow hope and surgically precise spin.

Those of us in the #casiNO camp know there's a better gamble to take; one in which the odds are stacked in our favour. Granted, our position isn't one without risk, but it is energized by a passionate conviction that the long-term solution for the challenges facing our city lies in the growing collective of Hamiltonians who believe in Hamiltonians.

We are willing, eager, and excited to "gamble" on the human capital within this great city, and fight for a future that is "by Hamiltonians, for Hamiltonians."

And that's why we're going "all-in," and placing our bets on a future that puts the potential for our city and its downtown core in the hands and hearts of Hamiltonians.

Yes, it's a risk. Yes, it's a gamble. But surely it's a gamble worth taking.

Jeff Strong is a pastor at Grindstone Church in Waterdown Ontario. He’s a graduate of Redeemer University College and McMaster Divinity College. A Hamiltonian for 15 years, Jeff and his wife Heather live with their four children in Westdale.

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By Jack (registered) | Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:45:01

Let what I have to say here be a warning, though I myself of course have no authority over anyone. However, I say the following based on an understanding of ancient tradition that applies especially to our day, and here and now. What I have to say is the following:

Anyone who works towards this end of building a casino is nothing less of a short-sighted, evil-doer. To profit off of the suffering of individuals is nothing short of evil, and those who do so need to remember they will face their Lord and have to answer for their deeds. I advise you and myself to fear God, to be concientious of the Creator and Sustainer of us and the entire universe. Do not spread corruption on the earth. Do not make it easy for people to destroy themselves, through enabling addiction. Do not make it easy through the making of a casino for people to distract themselves from greater things, to prevent them from reaching their full potential in life.

Do not prey on people. Do not kill individuals, families, and communities by promoting this kind of so-called entertainment in which the most people suffer and only a few make 'profit'. But if only they knew, and they will soon come to know, that such 'profit' will not be of any benefit to them in front of God, but instead it will be the cause of their misery. This would be a foolish trade indeed. Please take heed before it is too late.

It is said that if it were not for the animals, God would prevent the rain from falling due to the sins of mankind. Are you and I so sure that God might not send us a storm so great as to render all of 'developments' into loss? Be mindful of the Creator and Sustainer of the earth.

May God's peace be with you.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 12, 2013 at 23:52:06 in reply to Comment 86188

If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed. - Albert Einstein

God has nothing to do with it (anything actually) not even the Superbowl (27%). It comes down to dollars and cents just like any other corporation. WILL it bring in jobs and more money? Probably. WILL it create a large entertainment area/district? Maybe, I think so. IF we don't go for it wil we lose Flamborough? Maybe, who knows. If we don't go for it what other project will bring jobs and money to the core? Who knows, I doubt anything on such a large scale.

This city has done very little to promote itself outside of itself. We are still looked upon as the lowly place near Toronto. We had a chance to change that with Pan Am, major FAIL. We had a chance to change that with aggresive LRT push, again "FAIL"! We don't seem to move past safe or negative. Just sayin.

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 12, 2013 at 13:28:18 in reply to Comment 86188

Don`t you think OUR government is already doing enough high prise for living is a strat make this country more accessble on bying a house or rent a 3 bed room house or apt more living wayges are fruits and meat and eags and milk , the creator God said men will destroy them self give this country a living wayge and that whould be a first step in getting rid of poverty

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By HellFire (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2013 at 15:38:56

Bible thumping arguments are of no value to our decision making on this site. Take your belief in an imaginary friend and keep it in your church. Ir has no place in this debate.

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By On Second Thought.. (anonymous) | Posted February 12, 2013 at 17:32:53

A religion of secularism that operates within the theology of economics and worships the marketplace has as much validity as a faith with moral direction. You're gonna want to be careful with your claims there.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 23, 2013 at 10:31:59 in reply to Comment 86208

You need to be careful with any type of religion in rational discussion.

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