Hello there fellow Red Deerians! It’s Monday and it is time for another Rant on issues affecting Red Deer. News sources like rdnewsnow.com and the Red Deer Advocate keep us all informed. This blog is a bit different it’s an opinion piece and it may or may not reflect the views of the contributors or the collective of Brutal Reality Digest. BRD is always happy to support local, but I would like to speak today about a new venue in Red Deer that has both pros and cons for Red Deer.
As many of you may know, Red Deer has two casinos. I have heard that Jackpot Casino downtown is closing as per the creation of the new Red Deer Resort and Casino in the old Cambridge hotel, formerly the Sheraton Hotel and before that the Capri Hotel. I have mixed feelings about this new venue. It is great for Red Deer to have another event centre, but does it have to be a casino?
I agree that casinos attract visitors thereby boosting the economy and that it means more jobs in Red Deer. But at what cost? In my experience and opinion casinos make their money from the vulnerable, the disadvantaged, the working poor and seniors. People may say that it is a choice, whether or not to gamble. But it can be a serious addiction. I have watched people I care about lose everything they had due to gambling. They say that a fool and his money are soon parted but the people I know are not fools.
It starts rather innocuously, sometimes with scratch or other lottery tickets for a few dollars. Although I have witnessed people at checkouts in stores in front of me spend hundreds of dollars on lottery tickets, but that is only the beginning. The addiction truly starts either as a function of greed when a person has a “big” win or when a person loses so much money that they become desperate to win it back and more.
It’s not always a dream of becoming rich, sometimes it’s just a hope of getting a little extra when times are tough. There are better ways to make money such as by earning it. But opportunities to work are not always available to everyone. Casinos are not full of wealthy people, maybe a select few have some money to throw around but whenever I have went to one I only see seniors losing their life savings and pensions, and minimum wage workers trying to get ahead.
The provincial government runs ads about playing responsibly and seeking counselling when things get out of hand. It’s not that simple, it’s a very real problem and addiction, and many gamblers have a sense of pride that gets in the way of asking for help by way of counselling. I don’t think that casinos should be abolished, but I do think limits need to be set just like there are with alcohol and drugs.
You couldn’t go to a bar and drink yourself to death, therefore you shouldn’t be able to spend your entire income in a casino. I don’t know what enforcing something like that would look like, because logic fails people when they believe that their freedom is being denied. But some kind of cap on casino spending might be an option. The biggest problem is that casinos make their owners and the government quite a lot of money. And neither would be very happy about those profits being cut.
However preying on the poor and vulnerable is not the way to make your profits, it is cruel and unfair and one of the worst products of the capitalist system. Do better, casino owners and governments, other than just a few ads with words of warning and suggestions that the problem is the gamblers’s own fault.