First open house meeting tonight to discuss expansion of the Western Fair District casino in London, Ontario.
Tonight, March 22, 2018, the community of London, Ontario is invited to attend the city’s first open house meeting to discuss plans for the expansion of the casino at Western Fair District. The meeting will take place from 6-8:00pm this evening at the Kiwanis Senior’s Community Centre at 78 Riverside Drive. All residents are welcome to come and learn more about the proposed London casino expansion.
This initial meeting is for information purposes. A brief presentation will occur at 6:15, followed by an open discussion panel. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the project as city staff members present questions to representatives of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) and Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Ltd.
Plans to Expand Western Fair Casino in London
The current proposal calls for a mass expansion of the existing gaming facility at Western Fair District. At present, slot machines are the only gaming option at the facility. There are currently 738 slots installed on the property. Gateway’s proposal calls for an additional 462 machines, bringing their total to 1200, plus the installment of 50 live gaming tables, including games like blackjack, roulette, poker and others.
The existing slot machines at Western Fair are managed by Gateway, on behalf of the OLG. The operator has already received approval from regulators for the expansion, by way of the OLG Modernization Plan, which permits up to 1200 slot machines and 50 table games at Ontario casinos. Before going ahead, however, the City of London must pass a resolution to approve the project.
Tonight’s meeting will focus on preliminary efforts to gain the support of city council. Gauging public opinion on the matter will come later next month.
London Casino Expansion Suggests Economic Boon
Supporters of the plan are lauding the London casino expansion as a boon for the economy. In 2017, the OLG delivered approximately $5 million to the municipality by way of its contribution agreement, wherein host cities receive a percentage of all slots revenue. The expansion would generate an increase in that revenue, as well as opening new employment opportunities in the community.
More Gambling Alludes to More Problems
On the opposing side of the argument, some say an increase in the availability of gambling will inevitably lead to an increase in gambling addiction. Nigel Turner, who specializes in problem gambling at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, agrees that it is possible.
“Any time you increase the availability of gambling there’s a potential of an increase in problem gambling,” he says.
However, he notes that there are already 738 slot machines at the facility. Therefore the impact, if any, would be milder than if a brand new gaming facility were to open.
As for the addition of live gaming tables, Turner goes on to state that the majority of gambling addicts have problems with slots machines, not table games. On the other hand, of the minority who do struggle with table games, he says that they tend to lose more money in a shorter amount of time than slot machine addicts.
These and other issues will certainly take center stage tonight at the open house meeting. A second public participation meeting will take place on April 23 at City Hall. At that time, the community will get to weigh in on the expansion of the casino in London