Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Casino Expansion Bricks and Mortar and Online
McPhillips Station Casino.
The Days Inn McPhillips soon to be destroyed.
With little discussion, it was announced a few weeks ago that that the McPhillips Station Casino had bought the Days Inn Hotel owned by the Paletta family next door to the casino. The plan on the part of the casino is to tear down the hotel building and to expand the casino and build a connected hotel in the same vein as Club Regent Casino.
By my recollection, the Days Inn next to the casino was renovated a few years back. I have never stayed there nor know anyone who has so I can't really give an opinion about the hotel. I get pretty depressed reading hotel reviews since I think the people most compelled to write are the ones who had poor stays. For the Paletta family, it seems a good opportunity to move on to new projects. They have sold a few hotels and now are building in other parts of the province.
The cost for the casino to purchase the hotel was $10 million. It will cost a whole lot more to build a hotel, casino addition and more parking. The casino officials says that they expect the expansion will increase revenue for the casino.
I don't go to the casinos myself. I have worked them as a volunteer in the past and I do know that many people like them for bingos, the slots and the game tables. And let's not forget the entertainment and food. The power of the casinos as a venue has been seen in the ability to attract Graham Shaw and the Sincere Serenaders to the city again to perform.
I won't go into the difficulties of gambling and addiction. It is an issue that needs to be dealt with but not through Prohibition such as with alcohol. It is always better to regulate than to ban. Further criminalization is not needed in Manitoba or Canada. My feelings are that the social problems of gambling have to be worked on through the Addictions Foundation since the alternative of banning will only push things underground and into criminal activity.
I am not against the casinos nor am I against McPhillips Station expanding. My view is that a hotel and associated changes will be good for the club and its patrons. I do worry that traffic on McPhllips Street will be forever busy though.
And all this brings me to the issue of casinos in Winnipeg in general. Why are they all north of the Assinibone River and east of the Red River? Why these two places and not in the fastest growing section of the southwest?
Mark my words if the government hasn't thought about it, the First Nations have. If the Kapyong Barracks ever does get resolved in favour of an urban reserve, I fully expect Kapyong to possibly host a casino.
It may be years to resolve the issue of Kapyong but the government should consider what cowardice now in regards to the issue of a casino for the southwest could result in later on. Time to have the discussion rather than have it burst onto the horizon later on.
There is one area that the government could do wonders on when it comes to downtown development, the Winnipeg Convention Centre, hotels and parkades and that is by bring a casino back to the downtown of Winnipeg. It is easy to see how bold thinking might be able to redevelop a large section of land near the Convention Centre into both casino, hotel and parkade with links to the present Winnipeg Skyway system.
There has not been a casino downtown since the Fort Garry Hotel. At the time, it was Canada's first permanent casino and helped attract an ownership group that helped restore it to the hotel it is today.
Imagine what a new permanent casino could do for the downtown now. Perhaps a forward thinking government of political party might suggest such a project which clearly could give a boost to downtown tourism.
Lastly, online gambling is taking off all over Canada. B.C. and Ontario are leading the way. The NDP government is leaning towards it in Manitoba. The Tories are leaning against it. I think both had better get their thought processes down on the subject.
Like with a lot of things in Canada nowadays, I think we shouldn't be last to make a decision. There was a time when we were first such as with the Fort Garry Casino. It would be nice to lead again rather than to follow.