Background

A recent poll on expanded gambling in Ontario offered some startling results – and show the issue could be a losing hand for the Ontario Liberal government. The poll was commissioned by the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) and the results should give the Ontario Liberals pause as they consider expanded gaming in Ontario.

The poll was conducted by Abacus Data and recently surveyed 800 adults in Ajax, Pickering and Peterborough. These are all communities that currently have new or expanded casinos in various stages of development.

  • Of those surveyed 74 per cent agreed that there is enough gaming in their community already.
  • Residents are worried that issues like traffic congestion, policing costs, and the costs of social programs for gambling addiction are all likely to get worse with a new or expanded casino.
  • Specifically asked about a new casino built a short drive from their home, 49 per cent of respondents were opposed or strongly opposed

Asked about why MSIFN chose to commission this poll, Chief Kelly LaRocca replied, “MSIFN has worked well with OLG for years, and the casino has been of great benefit to our community. We know that OLG has a mandate to expand gaming – but that shouldn’t be done at the expense of casinos like ours, which helps First Nations across North America, and local people in the Durham Region and Scugog Township. With so much opposition in some of these communities, we thought it was important to find out if OLG was on the right track. They aren’t. “

Key points which shouldn’t be ignored by any party hoping to govern in Ontario.

  • Respondents were overwhelmingly long time residents, with 86 per cent having lived in their communities for 10 years or longer.
  • They also vote, 83 per cent confirming they voted in the 2014 provincial election
  • At 42 per cent a plurality of respondents voted for the Ontario Liberal Party in 2014

With all three planned casinos in or near Liberal-held ridings, forcing or expanding casinos on unwilling communities could prove a risky bet in the next provincial election. “The Liberal government has an opportunity to listen to their constituents, and ask OLG to reconsider expanded or new casino developments in these communities,” Chief LaRocca concluded, “We hope the Premier will do that.”