Casino

Windsor Casino a Lesson for Other Ontario Cities

By Ben Bull
Published February 19, 2013

A note of casino caution in The Star today, courtesy of Canada's gambling poster child - Windsor.

On the quiet streets that line the boarded-up storefronts of downtown Windsor, everybody remembers the casino mania that swept through Canada's ailing motor city nearly 20 years ago. ...

But then the oft-told tale takes a darker turn. Three new Detroit-area casinos killed Windsor's monopoly in the region, and tighter border restrictions and the near-collapse of the once mighty auto industry brought the bustle to a standstill.

While Windsor casino still employs around 3,000 workers, and pays between $13-21 an hour, the article notes that tourism is now back around pre-casino levels, and spillover trade is minimal at best.

As Mayor Eddie Francis notes, a casino is not a silver bullet:

You've got to stitch a number of these different industries together and diversify. We're not there yet, but we're getting there.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 05:49:13

As long as we're cherry picking things from the article, here's some other quotes:

“Cities are struggling these days from an economic perspective,” Francis said. “(The casino) is a job creator. It’s an industry — and it’s an industry that I’m really glad we have, because without it, we’d have 3,000 more unemployed people.”

and

Behind the counter in the surviving convenience store late last month, she said she’s grateful to the casino for creating “all those jobs that never (previously) existed,” because “as long as they have stable jobs … we get business from those people.”

and

“Where is Windsor if we lose the casino? A ghost town. That’s why we fight so hard to keep those jobs,” he said.

and

“It’s fair to say that we could have not afforded to do as much as we’ve done without the payments we’ve received from these entities,” said Colucci.

Oh, and this one (of particular interest to Hamilton I'd say):

In recent years, Windsor has redone its downtown streetscape, and handed over city buildings to local post-secondary institutions, which are promising to bring thousands of students to the core. “You’ve got to stitch a number of these different industries together and diversify,” Francis said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re getting there.”

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2013-02-20 05:52:46

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 23:19:50 in reply to Comment 86494

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 07:17:24 in reply to Comment 86494

You got that wright downtown thats all what the NO side are doing so , so can we .. lol

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 07:20:48

Oh and don`t forget to aske the Mayor of Windsor about if there poverety got wors .... not because of the Casino im sure but the (eco) , and did Windsor got alot more addictions in Gambeling as well in the last 20 years they should be a good exemples

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 09:32:47

It's not just casinos. It's tourism in general.

"Canada has experienced flat-line or modest increases in visitation in recent years, and in some years, declines. Our historic reliance on the United States market – which has traditionally provided 75% of Canada’s international visitors – has proven to be particularly troubling in light of a decline of 55.5% in these customers since 2000. The loss of United States visitation and the emergence of a wider competitive spectrum have contributed to Canada’s fall from 7th place in international arrivals in 2002 to 18th place in 2011. These declines in international visits coupled with the near-doubling of the spend for Canadians travelling outside the country has contributed to Canada’s ballooning travel deficit. Standing at almost $16 billion at the end of 2011, this number has increased six-fold over just the past decade.... Canada’s travel deficit, almost $16 billion at the end of 2011, has increased six-fold over just the past decade. Flat line international inbound travel spending has been offset by a near doubling of the spend of Canadians traveling outside the country."

http://hlta.ca/reports/The_Canadian_Tourism_Industry_-_A_Special_Report_Web_Optimized_.pdf

http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/889664--overnight-trips-to-u-s-hit-record-level-in-december

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:11:32 in reply to Comment 86507

There you go you juste answerded my question

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By Sue (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:08:06

It'd be interesting to see what Windsor would be like today if 20 years ago, instead of pursuing a casino, they handed those abandoned downtown buildings over to the university and had two decades of students living in the core.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 23:16:44 in reply to Comment 86514

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By coote (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2013 at 09:56:15 in reply to Comment 86558

DAAAAAGNABBIT!

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 21:20:47 in reply to Comment 86514

You're right, it would be interesting. But since we don't have a time machine to do anything about it, we won't ever know. What I do know is we're giving Mac a partial chance at this, both with the continuing ed building in the old courthouse and their new space at the old board of ed building. I really, really wish that Mac had taken ownership of the Connaught - I really think that would've been a great fit. Upper levels would be residences, the bottom (ground) floors could be used for formals, receptions, and post- graduation stuff at Hamilton Place. Oh well...

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:15:14 in reply to Comment 86514

Its because the U.S. stop comming and the auto incompanies folded not the casino .. actuly the Casino is probely the only thing thats bringing in money in Windsor

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By Sue (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:23:25 in reply to Comment 86517

That's not at all what I asked.

I understand the reasons why the city isn't doing well. They didn't realize an industrial city was an expired concept until decades after they should have.

They invested in a casino that provided short term profit that dried up after competition was built across the river.

It seems like the only thing going for the city right now is the 3,000 jobs that are provided at the casino.

My question is, had the city invested in initiatives that actually grew and evolved over the past 20 years, where could they be today?

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 23:17:14 in reply to Comment 86518

They invested in a casino that provided short term profit that dried up after competition was built across the river.

The exchange rate was big too. US dollars don't go as far today as they did when our dollar was only worth 60 cents US.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2013 at 06:13:22 in reply to Comment 86614

You raise an interesting point about exchange rates. One way we could test their relative impact on cross-border casino spending is to compare the change in overall cross-border spending over the same period.

If the decline in casino spending matches the decline in overall spending, it makes sense to hypothesize that they have the same cause(s): the exchange rate, an overall decline in economic activity on the American side might, etc.

But if the decline in casino spending is significantly higher than the overall decline, we may hypothesize that there are other factors at play, e.g. the addition of new casinos on the American side.

In any case, none of that changes the conclusion that a Windsor casino with mainly a local customer base is not an economic catalyst. After all, how could it be? It makes nothing and is ultimately nothing more than a voluntary tax collection centre with lots of flashing lights.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-02-22 06:46:45

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted February 22, 2013 at 12:22:28 in reply to Comment 86616

Agreed, it's something that could be studied and possibly isolated as an effect. There's a need to understand how it may have affected casino revenue along with other factors such as competition, the impact of tightened border security, socioeconomic trends in border cities, how the IRS has dealt with the reporting of winnings, etc. (I see someone else had mentioned the point about exchange rates too)

These things are not as important to casinos that are not close to the border, or are not in areas that are major draws for US tourists.

However, they are important to consider in any analysis that references casino performance in Windsor or Niagara Falls. Otherwise, for a place like Hamilton or London or KW, a business case that draws on figures from the border cities could be flawed.

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:27:24 in reply to Comment 86518

I hear you now ... so what whould thoses (initiatives) whould be faceING Detroit City

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 11:00:33

The recovering U.S. auto sector will help boost the Windsor-area economy by 2.4 per cent this year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

In fact, Windsor joins other Ontario municipalities that will experience higher economic growth as a result of their reliance on the U.S. economy, according to the board’s Metropolitan Outlook released Thursday.

“The economic recovery in the United States, although slow, will help boost exports coming from Ontario’s cities this year. U.S. demand for motor vehicles is especially strong, which will lead to production increases at automobile and parts factories across the province,” said Mario Lefebvre, director of the Centre for Municipal Studies.

Ongoing work on the Herb Gray Parkway will boost the construction sector, and the Windsor census metropolitan area’s vital manufacturing sector is expected to grow for the fourth consecutive year because of a continued rise in U.S. vehicle demand, the board said.

Last year, Windsor’s economy grew by 1.6 per cent while employment climbed at its fastest rate in 10 years, increasing by 2.4 per cent. Job growth is expected to slow to 0.6 per cent this year.

http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2013/02/14/windsor-area-economy-in-upswing-in-2010-conference-board-of-canada/

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 12:14:50 in reply to Comment 86583

Im verry happy to hear that ... so it was not alll the Casino fault ..lol i sure hope to hear the same thing with Stelco in Hamilton

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 11:14:10

I was on the fence and felt sorry for the Flamborough Downs people but lately, after hearing all the evidence both for and against, as well as all the lies from both sides, I really must move to the pro casino downtown side. We are a (slowly) growing city and need some MAJOR investment to propel us into the future. The city is basically working against most major progress because of it's backwards thinking council and I truly believe there is a majority of citizens who want it and more large investment.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2013 at 13:44:59 in reply to Comment 86584

What convinced you of that? The evidence is that casinos have at best a zero net impact on economic development, and usually have a net negative impact. The most likely outcome of a downtown casino is that it would disrupt the investments in downtown that are propelling us into the future.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 23, 2013 at 10:21:15 in reply to Comment 86592

Well, we know it's helped Niagara Falls and Brantford. I'm pretty sure Orillia is doing quite well..... If it's done right, with the adjacent entertainment and hotel facilities combined, I can see little downside. The problems we have now already seem fairly extreme so to add major development with the potential for increased downtown spinoffs does seem to me more of a positive than negative. I realize I'm merely one voice but my circle of friends/co-workers, which is not small, all but one or two want to see it. Again, I don't want the silent majority to not have a voice.

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By Brantford (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2013 at 09:58:43 in reply to Comment 86673

Have you been to Brantford lately? The casino hasn't helped. A casino is NOT an investment in a community. It's subsidized leeching.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted March 01, 2013 at 11:02:47 in reply to Comment 86720

Talk to their Mayor and councilors. From what I've heard it's been a boon for their investment.

http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/talk/story/20...

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/01/...

Comment edited by Woody10 on 2013-03-01 11:07:24

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 01, 2013 at 11:15:35 in reply to Comment 86956

This has been addressed over and over again. Brantford Mayor Friel has been very clear in what he has said:

  • The casino itself has done nothing for downtown.
  • The city decided to earmark all the casino revenue it received to build a new university campus downtown.
  • The new university campus downtown has been a boon.

Friel has also said that Hamilton should keep its casino in Flamborough, not move it downtown.

Hamilton currently dumps its casino money into general revenues, so the only way we could realize the kind of benefit Brantford had is to remove the money from general revenue and earmark it for a specific investment.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted March 01, 2013 at 11:35:34 in reply to Comment 86958

Well, from the article he quotes:

He says the bad stuff hasn’t happened. He says they’ve looked hard, checked the stats with police and local social service agencies, and the casino has not set loose a plague on the streets of Brantford.

and as far as "YOU" saying he said "The casino itself has done nothing for downtown" he actually said:

The mayor believes the casino itself, on downtown’s southern edge, has done little for the core. Patrons roll in, roll out. But those thousands of students do bring the downtown sidewalks alive.

Casino Brantford provides some 900 jobs and has turned over nearly $50 million to the city. (Reg Beaudry/ urbanicity)Yes, there’s Money Mart and thrift stores. But new student residences are popping up. The latest, which opens this week, is the $11-million Expositor Place. In this restored 1895 gem, there will be commercial space and a home for 210 students. The city kicked in $450,000 to restore the historic facade.

And do you really think we will get the same benefits from Flamborough? Maybe, IF they expand with a hotel/waterpark/theatre type of facility. But seriously, we all know that will never happen. Time to be realists don't you think?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 23, 2013 at 11:26:34 in reply to Comment 86673

All reputable polls to date have shown a slight majority oppose a downtown casino, so by all means, let's give that silent majority a voice.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted March 01, 2013 at 11:00:54 in reply to Comment 86678

Polls also said Obama might lose so.....

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 01, 2013 at 11:13:27 in reply to Comment 86955

No they really didn't. Only in the closed-loop echo chamber of the Republican media did any analysts think Obama was going to lose, let alone lose in a landslide. Among reality-based analysts, the projections of an Obama win were pretty clear.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted March 01, 2013 at 11:36:35 in reply to Comment 86957

Hmmm, sounds familiar. And we all know polls can be way off.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2013 at 13:24:58

Agreed that the blog cherry picked quotes and presented an anti-casino bias overall. Fair comment. But that's why we have the comment feature right?

When I read the article I felt that the key points were: - The initial success and hype of the casino have more-or-less faded away. The key selling points for the casino - easy access and 'cheap money' for Americans - have now gone away. So for the most part it is now just another casino - The casino today may have made a marginal impact on tourism. Tourism levels are now back down below pre-casino levels (there are other factors at play here of course) - The casino is a major city employer. Pay ranges are moderate, well below the car manufacturing jobs of old - Spillover trade did not really happen - Building a successful city, a downtown in particular, takes more than one 'sliver bullet'

So Windor's experience is a note of caution for Hamilton, especially if citizens feel it will make a massive all encompassing difference to the downtown. Of course employment will spike, but as with all industries we seek to attract, we need to look at the kind of jobs we are going to get as well as any other implications related to the venture. I would prefer an entertainment venue which positively impacted the surrounding area not a virtual bunker such as casino.

There are many differences with Windor's offering and Hamilton's. Hamilton will have other casino rivals in fairly close proximity so it's not going to have a unique advantage of any kind really. I expect it's casino would attract mainly locals (who could distribute their income more effectively at local independent businesses or else save it) or else the usual casino travellers (many gamblers routinely do the round of OLG casinos).

Overall I think the net value will be a few more jobs, a dead zone downtown, more money for the province and no gain (and possibly a loss) for local businesses. Oh and more addicts! Not worth it in my opinion.

Cheers

Ben

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 21, 2013 at 21:50:56 in reply to Comment 86590

Ah, so it was RTH, and not yourself, that added the quotes? Interesting.

I agree. The article was an interesting read. The casino flourished when our money was worth 2/3 of the US dollar, there was nothing comparable nearby, and the enconomy was not in recession. Then a bunch of blows in quick succession, and now it's flatlining.

I am thinking that a smaller scale casino, for example, something you would do as part of an evening, is probably Hamilton's best route. You know, dinner, maybe play a few games, catch a show (music, movie, game, whatever), and then maybe some post-event drinks. The gaming wouldn't necessarily be the focal point. I know that's not going to happen, but I fully support a casino downtown.

I disagree that it would make some sort of a 'dead zone', nor would it attract more addicts as you suggest. Perhaps more vigilant policing would help that, and no statistics back up that claim (see the chief's comments from the meeting earlier at city hall).

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2013 at 05:57:35 in reply to Comment 86612

Ah, so it was RTH, and not yourself, that added the quotes?

I'm not sure how you drew that conclusion. The quotes that are included in this blog post are the quotes that were included in Ben's submission. I confirmed the quotes in the article and read the rest of the piece, but I accept Ben's argument, as he unpacked in his comment above, about the most important conclusions of the Star article.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-02-22 06:15:39

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 22, 2013 at 23:04:10 in reply to Comment 86615

It's pretty easy how I came to that conclusion. Read:

Agreed that the blog cherry picked quotes and presented an anti-casino bias overall.

To me, this site, RTH, is a blog. I don't consider a specific entry a blog within a blog, I consider it an entry. So if you are going to criticize that I understand something different than you, shame on you.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2013 at 23:51:10 in reply to Comment 86669

"I'm not sure how you drew that conclusion" is confusion, not criticism.

Seriously, though, your steady antagonism makes effective communication very difficult. (BTW that was criticism.)

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-02-22 23:52:36

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 23, 2013 at 14:15:28 in reply to Comment 86671

See how that skewed logic works both ways? I criticize here, a lot. Because a lot of what's spewed here is nonsense, or at least it is to me. Your comment came across to me as pure criticism to me, but you meant it as confusion(?).

Not sure what your end game is here, but apology accepted.

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By cleanup crew (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:00:48 in reply to Comment 86679

The only one doing any "spewing" around here is you.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 23, 2013 at 18:42:19 in reply to Comment 86679

Not sure what your end game is here

My "end game" is a city that makes good decisions based on good data and a good understanding of what works. My goal is a healthy, prosperous city in which, for example, you can find work in your field and no longer need to commute.

I wonder if there would be value in our meeting in person, for example over coffee - not to argue or even debate, but just so that each of us can more easily humanize the other. We seem to have a fair bit in common: we have overlapping taste in music, we work in similar fields, and we even live not too far from each other. Yet our online discussion is too often laced with mistrust, accusation and acrimony.

I've found that it's harder to assume the worst about someone when you've met them in person. My email is on at the top of this comment if you want to get in touch.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 26, 2013 at 07:10:29 in reply to Comment 86685

Sorry, just saw this now. I'll be dropping you a line shortly. I'd like to meet in person too, maybe an RTH get-together? Anyone interested? I'd suggest the Mulberry cafe maybe? Unless someone else has any other ideas.

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By anonymity (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:02:35 in reply to Comment 86685

Calling for the real person behind the mask to stand up certainly shuts them up quickly.
----------
OH, by the way, the irony of this post being anonymous is not lost on me.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2013 at 13:39:57 in reply to Comment 86590

I expect it's casino would attract mainly locals

So does the OLG - that's why they want it to be downtown.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 23, 2013 at 10:27:35 in reply to Comment 86591

Because OLG sees the stats of how many people leave Hamilton for their personal entertainment. Wether it be Casino, theatre, sport, work etc. We have to start keeping our people happy here. It's obvious to me how we are continuing to force our own citizenry out of our town. It's terrible to me. It's been said over and over in various entries on this site, how we always seem to shoot ourselves in the foot when it comes to development and making this city reach it's potential. Do we now just criticize those who wish a different type of development/change than we do??

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By obvious? (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:03:25 in reply to Comment 86674

So - the OLG just wants us to be happy?

Are you for real?

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted March 01, 2013 at 10:58:37 in reply to Comment 86723

So where in my comment did I say that? I am being realistic when I say the OLG sees that we have many "casino goers" and think , "We can make money in Hamilton" so that's what I meant.

Why read between lines for you're own benefit when there's nothing there to read?? And you ask if I'm being real??

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By as (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2016 at 07:40:44

asas

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