Members of the Sudbury and District Medical Society have waded into the dispute over whether Greater Sudbury should play host to a new, larger casino.
In a letter signed by president Dr. Sanjiv Mathur and vice president Dr. Dennis Reich, the society said it believes the potential of worsening problem gambling with a larger, more central casino is not the risk.
They also believe the payments from the province the city receives for hosting a casino aren't work the cost to the community.
In the letter, the group urges Sudbury physicians to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign initiated by a group led by Tom Fortin of CasinoFreeSudbury.com to help fund the efforts to stop the project.
The full text of the letter is below.
Sudbury city councillors should be aware of the health impacts on the community if they vote yes to the Kingsway casino on Tuesday, April 10.
The Ontario Medical Association produced a paper entitled “Gambling and Health in Ontario” based on published reports by the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) and Toronto Public Health Unit. Between three and four per cent of the population will become problem gamblers experiencing negative consequences on finances, employment, relationships and substance abuse.
Problem gambling is associated with financial strain, alcohol or fatigue-related traffic fatalities, family breakdown/divorce, child poverty/neglect, and suicide.
The financial strain leads to inability to pay for housing, food, clothing, and medications. Three to four percent of the population may not sound like a lot, but consider the negative impacts on their families.
Given that the casino will be directly attached to the community arena it should be noted that it is well established that proximity to a casino increases problem gambling. Several studies show problem gambling increases within walking or close driving (5km or less) distances of a Casino. In addition, the OLG itself reports the problem gambling rates amongst its employees is three times higher than general population (nine per cent).
These Sudburians will require extensive health resources from an overburdened and already severely underfunded mental health and hospital systems. These neighbours of ours and their families will suffer.
Casinos are all about increasing revenues for the government but at what cost? The OLG acknowledges the huge risk of problem gambling, but has barely addressed the suggestions from Health Units. This is because a whopping 36 per cent of the OLG income is derived from problem gamblers! They do not come close to financially compensating the community for the increase in demand for social work, case managers, counsellors, nurses, physicians and police.
This is why the Sudbury and District Medical Society endorses Casino Free Sudbury’s legal appeal of the casino and has encouraged physicians to fund the campaign.
Dr. Sanjiv Mathur, president of the Sudbury and District Medical Society
Dr. Dennis Reich, vice-president of the Sudbury and District Medical Society