A Unique Perspective On The OLG Casinos From Bob McCown

Bob McCown is one of Canada’s most recognized and controversial talk show hosts, and discusses the latest trends in sports on his daily afternoon show ‘Prime Time Sports.’ Occasionally McCown and one of his guests will take a segment to discuss other topics in Canada that are often political and therefore, controversial in nature.  Earlier this week, the OLG gaming modernization strategy was brought up and McCown – who made no secret of being pro-gambling – claimed OLG chairman Paul Godfrey was being “goofy” with the plans.

McCown, also known as the Bobcat, has lived in Las Vegas and is no stranger to having casinos in his neighbourhood.  Paul Godfrey is also a very close friend of McCown, who has been on the show twice in the past year to discuss the OLG expansion strategy.  Therefore, the Bobcat has a unique understanding of the casino plan given his gambling history and insight into the OLG chairman’s way of thinking.

McCown said one of his biggest concerns is transforming Ontario into a more expensive Las Vegas.  The Bobcat reflected that in Vegas, there are limits on how much players can bet on the machines, with penny and nickel machines very popular in communities off the Strip.  He says this betting model works because operators are aware they provide a form of entertainment, and shouldn’t pressure players to gamble all their disposable income.

However, he says OLG casinos such as Fallsview in Niagara Falls don’t impose limits.  The Bobcat believes this aggressive effort to make money off gamblers works for these casinos because they are in rural, tourist-oriented locations – which generally means people only make the trips a few times a year.  A casino in the heart of Toronto, operating under the same aggressive methods as the current casinos, would increase the number of problem gamblers due to the convenient location.

McCown also poked holes in Godfrey’s claims that a casino would boost Toronto’s tourism industry.  Communities like Vegas or Atlantic City spent years marketing themselves as the iconic gambling communities in North America, and to this day still attract millions of tourists.  McCown says Toronto would never be able to compete with the major casino cities, and instead would take business away from casinos in Windsor, Niagara Falls, and Orillia.  These casinos rely on Torontonians for a large amount of their business, and a casino in the GTA would keep gamblers in the city – which could threaten the future of Ontario’s other gaming communities.

McCown summed up his segment on the OLG by stating that casinos in major urban cities won’t benefit the province.

“I have no issue with gaming at all.  I’m in favour of it, but I don’t want it in my hometown.  I’ve lived in a town that has gaming Las Vegas, I’ve seen what it can do — I’ve seen what it can do to people for whom it is too convenient.  I like the idea that it takes me an hour to get to the casino – that I can’t just go whenever I want to go, I’ve got to plan for it, make a trip out of it.  I think that inhibits me, limits the times I go.  I love when I go, but I don’t have a problem.” 

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