For the time being, the Western Fair District casino features slot machines only, with a total of 738 terminals available to local players. As CasinoReports has previously reported, the city of London has been making plans of adding another 462 slot machines to the existing ones, boosting their number to up to 1,500. Furthermore, the city’s officials are also willing to add 50 live table games, including blackjack, roulette and poker.
According to Ward 4 Councillor Jesse Helmer, these intentions have raised concerns among some local residents in terms of possible increase of problem gambling in the region. As explained by Helmer, gambling addiction could lead to players sometimes losing their entire lives. Councillor Helmer further shared that both the officials of the city of London and residents must be very careful and thoughtful as far as gambling expansion was concerned.
According to one of the gambling experts working with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Nigel Turner, there is a possibility for problem gambling in the region to increase as more slots and table games are added to the London’s casino. Mr. Turner said that problem gambling could potentially increase every time when gambling options availability was boosted. Still, according to him, the increase of gambling options in the region could have a milder effect, provided the fact that the city of London already features more than 700 slot machines.
Mr. Turner also reminded that the majority of people who are dealing with gambling addiction usually choose slot machines to play. He added that problem gamblers accounted for approximately 20% of the total slot machine revenue.
As for the concerns related to slot machines and table games, most problem gamblers deal with gambling addictions related to slot machines, rather than to table games, as explained by Nigel Turner. Still, the fact that table games are currently far fewer in number in comparison to the province’s slot machines.
Local Residents Face Casino Expansion with Mixed Feelings
As previously reported by CasinoReports, the Western Fairground has already faced some difficulties related to the Gateway’s casino expansion project, with local residents facing the project with mixed feelings. Currently, it is Gateway that operates the slots in the Western Fair District.
Last year, the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Gateway Casinos & Entertainment inked a 20-year casino operating and services agreement (COSA). Under the contract, Gateway took over the day-to-day operations and assets of the North and Southwest Gaming Bundles.
As mentioned above, the Gateway’s casino expansion plans provoked mixed feelings in local residents. For the time being, part of the Western Fair gaming revenue is brought back to the city of London. According to an announcement published on a city website, the funds are used as funding of public infrastructure and capital projects. Apart from the concerns related to possible increase of problem gambling, worries that the Western Fair District would struggle to protect its tradition and legacy emerged. That is why the city of London is looking to hear what public has to say about the proposed casino and gambling expansion, with the first hearing held last night. A public participation meeting is set to be held at the City Hall on April 23rd.