Study gambling first

Dear sir:
I have forwarded the following letter to Chris Hodgson, the Minister of Northern Development and Mines.
Dear Mr. Hodgson,
I listened with disbelief as I heard the announcements that you, and your government, are considering substituting slot machines for VLTs in charitable gaming clubs. I believed the announcement. My disbelief was in the fact that you seem to believe that the debate is about VLTs, not the expansion of gambling in the province.
To focus the debate on VLTs is to ignore the fundamental issues in the debate. When people said they did not want charitable gaming clubs in their communities, they were responding to the entire package and the affects of the package, not only to VLTs.
We do not want an expansion of gambling in Ontario.
We do not want a casino in our community.
We do not want our local businesses cannibalized.
We do not want our social programs paid for by the many who must lose for gambling to be profitable.
We do not want to privatize community services by transferring the funding from the taxpayers and donors to gambling.
We do not want our scarce social services overwhelmed by the need for more social services because citizens are beguiled into believing the lie that they can win.
We do not want the vulnerable of our society deceived into believing that gambling will solve their problems.
We do not want a culture which defines success in material terms or by what one can “win.”
We do not want neighbors set up in an exploiter-exploited relationship.
We do not want real life responsibilities undermined by a government which urges people to rely on the false hope of the security of gambling.
We do not want community development which creates no new wealth and siphons off what wealth there is into slot machines or onto gambling tables.
We do not want our local charities to become addicted to gambling.
We do not want our provincial government to become addicted to gambling.
We do not want you to dupe the people of Ontario by making them believe that slot machines are somehow “good” or “better than” VLTs.
We do not want charitable gambling premises in our community, or any other community in Ontario.
It was my hope that in reviewing the proposals regarding “charitable gaming” that you would take a serious look at it. It was my hope that you would review the social, economic, and legal impact of legal and illegal gambling.
I had hoped that you would halt gambling expansion until such a review had proven that gambling would not have an adverse effect on the social, economic, and legal well-being of communities and the province.
I have no indication that has been done. If you have, I applaud you and ask you to release your findings. If you have not, I implore you to do such a study before making any decisions regarding the expansion of gambling in Ontario.
I look forward to hearing from you, soon, in this regard.
Sincerely,
Jeraldine Bjornson
Fort Frances, Ont.


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