The future of how casinos in Ontario’s big cities will operate is being put to question by municipal medical health officers. In November Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. David McKeown listed recommendations for the Toronto casino that he says should be dictations of terms, and now Hamilton’s Chief Medical Officer has drafted a similar report for the Hamilton casino. Dr. Elizabeth Richardson says the casino shouldn’t be open 24 hours a day, suggesting this will help limit cases of problem gambling.
“This is one of the many, many decisions that council needs to make with a full understanding of what some of the benefits and risks are, and make sure some plans are in place to mitigate those risks.”
Richardson says in her report that there are over 5,000 Hamilton residents with “moderate to high risk” chances of problem gambling. The groups of people most vulnerable to problem gambling are reported as youth, seniors, men, First Nations communities, and gamers who score an early big win. The report also associates gaming addiction with access to games, operating hours of a gaming establishment, and access to money through savings and credit cards.
Richardson believes closing the casino’s doors for six hours a day will dramatically reduce the likelihood of high risk problem gambling. Other recommendations include a mandatory system of personal reports that list a player’s frequency of loss with the length of time spent in a casino.
The report is being reviewed by Hamilton councilors to construct questions for the next gaming sub-committee meeting that will discuss the report’s findings. Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina says he will need time to look over the research, but admits he agrees with most of the findings.
The OLG has given Hamilton until late February to vote to support or reject a casino in the community, which is possible to be installed in a different location then the OLG’s current slots at racetrack program at the Flamboro Downs racetrack.