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Canada’s love-hate relationship with casinos

27th May 2013 Print

Some of the world’s best and most luxurious casinos can be found in Canada – but views seem distinctly polarised as to whether the country needs any more.

Canadian individual states decide whether or not gambling is legal and already, those states where it is have big casinos close to the border which are a big pull for Americans living close to the Canadian border.

Now, two townships to the north of Toronto each have the opportunity to create new casino, but the prospect has stirred up some fierce debate.

In Vaughan, Ontario, where one of the new casinos could be built, councillors are debating the issue but there are some sections of the community vehemently opposed. One resident told CBC News that a casino would be a liability rather than an asset.

Nearby, in Markham, Ontario the local council voted firmly against hosting a new casino in 2012, but some councillors are keen to re-open the debate. Those supporting its construction point out that a casino would really help develop the city centre.

Real casinos certainly engender strong feelings, but it may be a moot point. Online casinos in Canada are taking away a lot of the traditional casinos’ business – particularly through the advent of live casinos at sites like Grosvenor - – 32 Red, 888 and others.

The figures are also seasonally-biased in countries like Canada with harsh winters; understandably, casino visitors are more likely to keep their casino visits virtual when there’s snow outside the front door!

Even in countries where there is no tax on gamblers’ winnings and very few restrictions on any forms of gambling as in the UK, the online casinos are still taking a huge chunk of the traditional casinos’ business. In the UK, around nine million people are forecast to gamble online in 2013, whether with traditional bookmakers, online casinos, or simply buying their lottery tickets online.

In North America, though, the situation is very different and casinos in Canada but close to the U.S. border will have a ready audience for some time yet. But the objections against their construction seem to come more from a moral standpoint than a business one.