“We just want a safe place to gamble.” This is the plea of a group of problem gamblers downtown who prefer the term, “People of Chance” (POC). I sat down with spokesperson, Rita Virtue, to get her side of the story. Virtue, 58, and mother of three, starts off with an analogy.
“Listen: I’ll get to the artcrawl in a minute. Our gambling issue is like the needle exchange in Vancouver. We’re in the Hamilton City Centre bathrooms, social clubs, and the alley behind Cheapies just to score the next bet. These are not safe places. We’ve resorted to betting on dog fights and scooter races. We want to have a clean place, with a dress code and slots. Studies show that we, the POC, provide 36% of the revenue for the casinos, and no one has asked our opinion.”
Virtue recalls that, “Councillor Whatever-His-Name was right, downtown is not a neighbourhood. We shouldn’t be treating it like one.”
The problem, according to the POC, is that events like artcrawl and the grassroot development by citizens are taking too long. According to Virtue, “It’s really preventing the downtown from becoming the next Atlanta or Reno. Think of the positives, for once. It’s those ‘usual suspects’ of bleeding hearts that really shoot down these great ideas that will benefit our town.
Why don’t they do their research. Did you hear the interview with PJ Mercanti on Matt & Gunner? Mercanti said that Casinos give elderly people something fun to do with their disposable income. Why does the art community hate the elderly so much?”
With artcrawl on the horizon, POC would like to remind the citizens of Hamilton that the artsy, urban renewal is taking a seriously long time. A casino can bring the money fast.
Who knows? Maybe a casino would bring a rare smile to the faces of some of those scowling hipsters, too.