Volume 91, Issue 42

Wednesday, November 12, 1997

Downey fresh


Lobby to continue for London casinos

By Ian C.Robertson
Gazette Staff

London voters have told city council loud and clear not to gamble on permanent charitable casinos in town.

Of those who voted in Monday's municipal election, 63 per cent said in a non-binding referendum they wanted London to reject the two proposed casinos the province has targeted for London.

Deputy mayor-elect Anne Marie DeCicco said she was happy with the results of the referendum, but not surprised. "Casinos have been a big issue throughout the campaign and the consistent response of those I talked to has been opposition," DeCicco said.

She added the public can obviously see the economic and social harm casinos would bring to the city and that she was one of the five city councilors who voted against bringing casinos to London.

Geoffrey Hale, member of the steering committee of Citizens for a Casino-free London said his group contains many diverse people from the community with many different objectives towards the provincial plan as it was perceived to be detrimental for the city.

"A wrong message is sent to young people about how to achieve success and [casinos] radically increase gambling in the city, especially with the easily accessible video lottery terminals," he said. The plan for government-run charity gambling would remove the community and make them dependent on the government for financing, he added.

"The 'no' vote shows [London] citizens have spoken clearly across the city and has sent a clear message to council and neighbouring communities as well as the provincial government that casinos are not welcome," Hale said. He added he expects the new city council will be responsible to the expressed opinion of the people of London.

Kevin Dunklee, a spokesperson for Charities and Businesses For Gaming Clubs said he too was not surprised by the "no" vote. He said this vote was not definitive and his group will continue to lobby London for casinos.

The people have to see the support and economic benefits of casinos as well as note the charitable fund-raising they will bring, Dunklee said. Despite Monday's vote he said his group will continue its push for casinos. "Throughout the next week we will be contacting the new councillors to define their positions and strategize for future lobbying."

Ward two councillor-elect Rob Alder, said he has always been against casinos in London because of their health and social implications. "I'm pleased with the results – a two to one vote can not be ignored," he said.

Ward one councillor-elect Ab Chahbar agreed with Alder and said he was very heightened by the response and will continue to stand against casinos in London.

DeCicco said she is willing to negotiate for charitable casinos but will stand firm against permanent casinos in London.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997