Thursday, 11 October 2012

Stay classy Ottawa: Send gamblers to the suburbs

Apparently, the greed of the City of Ottawa knows no bounds.
Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you've probably heard that Ottawa city council voted yesterday to allow the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission to proceed to the bidding process for a new casino for the City of Ottawa.
That's exactly what we need -- another gambling establishment in the Ottawa-Gatineau region. People can already lose their money at Lac Leamy, along with their houses and church funds. They can also meander down to the Rideau Carleton Raceway and Slots to play the ponies and machines.
Why do we need another place for people to lose their pension cheques and their children's university funds?
Because all of our Ontario gambling revenue is going into Quebec. That's why.
Mayor Millhouse and Uncle Daltie want that money to stay in Ontar-i-ar-i-ario. They're also hoping that a full blown casino will pick the pockets of all the conventioneers who come here to learn, network, fornicate and drink.
All the touristas and conventioneers could go to Rideau Carleton but there is no infrastructure set up to help them get there. No little buses taking them to the slots for free. No lining of pockets of meeting planners to get them to ferry spouses out to the track for lunch and a few pulls.
I've been on those spousal programs myself, and I can tell you, I would die to get in a little dice and slot pulling rather than be put on a bus to see the fall foliage or yet one more art gallery.
The trouble is not that we don't have the facility, or the capacity for a facility out at Rideau Carleton; it's that OLG is a lousy, awful marketer.
Have you seen their commercials? That's what you get when you put public servants in charge of marketing. They spend half the money trying to cure gamblers from the addiction they themselves have created.
The people at Lac Leamy don't give a hoot about your addiction problem.
They want to increase your chances of gambling more.
The folks at Lac Leamy are smart.
Everywhere you go in the region, you see Lac Leamy promotion -- in the hotels, at trade shows, even at festivals. What do you see for Rideau Carleton?
Plus, more people would go to Rideau Carleton if they built a better facility. I used to be a frequent flyer at the Slots, back when I had disposable income and three kids to get away from, and it was a lot better 10 years ago. Since then, the place has been reduced to a friggin' cow palace with  no cache, cranky slot attendants -- those who have not been replaced by technology -- and a restaurant that peddles stale toast and cold eggs to seniors.
I can bet my last dollar that if the OLG built a facility like FallsView, with entertainment, great food, tables and shops, people would flock to the place. And when they lost most of their money, the gamblers could spend the rest on harness racing and save the lives of countless animals and luckless horse owners.
We don't need a friggin' casino in downtown Ottawa so public servants can spend what's left of their pensions or escape the effect of their affected notices. We certainly don't need more traffic in the downtown where you can't find a parking space if you tried.
We need Ottawa to stay classy and send the addicts to the outskirts of town.
It's a question of making the facilities we have now bigger and better.
We can also save harness racing in the meantime.


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