Representatives of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) addressed concerns in relation to the construction of a new gambling establishment in the area of Chatham-Kent, located in the south-eastern part of the province.
The casino in question is to be built by one of the biggest gambling companies in Western Canada, the Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited and is planned as a part of the company’s Cascades brand of gambling venues. Gateway plan on building their casino on a piece of land, acquired from the local Brad Lea Meadows in the city of Chatham.
Plans for the construction of the casino were announced last week and caused a wave of concern among the local population. One of the biggest concerns had to do with gambling addiction and more specifically whether there will be enough problem gambling counsellors to support a new gambling venue in the area.
Shawn Rumble who occupies the position of a coordinator of the problem gambling program at the Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor, Ontario, previously expressed fears that the number of counsellors on problem gambling will not suffice. In fact, there are only two certified counsellors working for the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA), he commented in front of the local media. According to Mr. Rumble, potential problem gamblers in the area will not benefit from a twelve-step program, either.
The coordinator of the program explained that Windsor’s Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare is sometimes visited by problem gamblers who come all the way from Chatham in order to pursue treatment. Seven Chatham residents have visited the treatment program in Windsor during the previous year, with an increasing number of people seeking treatment for their gambling problem. As many as 1,100 people have resorted to the program to treat their gambling addiction for the past eleven years.
Mr. Rumble was also surprised by the fact the announcement of the plans for the new casino was made in March, which is Gambling Awareness Month in the United States. He also turned to the Local Health Integration Network with an appeal for them to provide the extra funding that is necessary to hire additional qualified counsellors in Chatham.
Gambling Addiction Rates Have Dropped over the Past 20 Years
Such concerns are exaggerated according to representatives of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission who addressed this subject, explaining the rates of gambling addiction in the Ontario province have been decreasing over the past 20 years. Tony Bitonti spoke on behalf of the OLG, claiming Ontario boasts the best-funded program for responsible gambling not only on the territory of Canada but in North America as a whole.
Mr. Bitonti also noted that Ontario poured as much as CA$19 million into various programs for responsible gambling throughout the province. The additional amount of CA$38 million was spent on the funding of different programs with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The programs in question all had to do with gambling addiction treatment, prevention, and research.
Mr. Bitonti concluded by assuring there will be no shortage of problem gambling counsellors since the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission has established solid partnerships with counselling services in all communities where there are large gambling establishments.
The proposed Cascades-branded casino is yet to obtain the necessary approvals from the authorities and needs to complete the land acquisition of the site the venue will be built on. Construction on the proposed gambling establishment is likely to commence this spring.