READ: Open Letter to Council from CasinoFreeSudbury Director  Jan 10, 2018 ( PDF)


Real data, and real experiences, of communities who elected to host full casinos.

Executive Summary ( We know you are busy!)

According to City of Sudbury projections, the new casino will result in $100-150 Million in gambling losses with $62-107 Million leaving the community. With no significant external population base to draw from, the patrons in this casino will be 90% locals, and the 10 percent that are visitors, will be people who were visiting Sudbury regardless of a casino. The difference is that they will be spending money in the casino complex and not in existing local businesses.

 Restaurants and charities will be particularly hard hit, ( casino will have 3 restaurants and one bar) but essentially, all local businesses will be effected. Bottom line, this casino, provided by our provincial government, and operated by a professional gambling company to maximize losses, will culturally and economically change Sudbury for the worse.

We stand to lose so much of what makes Sudbury unique, and a great place to live, work, and play.  This campaign may be the last opportunity for the business community to have a say in whether the Government of Ontario works with local entrepreneurs, or against. Endorse the campaign! are the boring graphs and data nobody reads, followed by supporting data.

  Thunder Bay is an ideal example to study the effects of full casinos in northern communities as they opened a full casino in their downtown in 2000. There was great support for the casino when it opened as they expected a flood of tourists to come to the city to revitalize the economy after several large employers left the community. Further, there was a yearly drain of $25M in gambling losses to residents commuting to a US casino about an hour from Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay Ventures Corporation is a federally funded business development organization that surveys Thunder Bay businesses every year on a variety of subjects.  One of the subjects they added in 2000 to the survey was concerning the casino. The survey showed something went very wrong economically after the casino became embedded within the community, and many local businesses felt it.

What went wrong in Thunder Bay is that there was no external population base to draw in more tourists.  People from surrounding communities already visited Thunder Bay to shop and for entertainment.

As in Thunder Bay, there simply is no significant external population to support a casino in Sudbury.  The massive amount of money ($100-150 Million) that is expected to be lost in our new full casino will simply be offset by money not spent in existing establishments. This is what happened in Thunder Bay, and this is what will happen here.
  The largest misconception about casinos in Northern Ontario is that they will attract tourists to the host community.  Both Thunder Bay and SS Marie have had casinos in their cities for over a decade and data shows that they have not succeeded in attracting any significant numbers of visitors to their respective communities. Although Sudbury may have a slightly higher population base in surrounding communities it is obvious that a casino will only displace tourist spending in existing restaurants and attractions in our city.  The bottom line is the greatest proportion of people gambling in our casino will be from our community. Sudbury would not be special in any way if a full casino is built in our city. In fact, if we really want to be different we should say no to any type of expanded gambling facility in our city.
If casinos were beneficial to host communities it would translate to increased wealth for residents.  The facts are, that casinos produce relatively low-paying jobs, and remove so much money from communities that far more jobs are lost in the community than are gained in a casino. Virtually all communities with full casinos ( slots and gaming tables) are in the lower tier household income bracket according to the BMA 2016 Ontario Municipal Survey. Is this something we should aspire to as a community?

Average Household income in the 105 Ontario Municipalities ranges from a low of $60,587 up to $192,825.  The average of all municipalities is $97,825.

Niagara Falls has the largest gambling facilities in Ontario. Here is a short film about the area of the city outside the tourist/casino district.


In Sudbury, the gambling losses at the SLOTS at Sudbury Downs averages approx. $44M/Year. That works out to an average loss per patron/per visit of $88.

NOTE: We are not advocating for closure of the SLOTS in Chelmsford. We are advocating for no change to the present status of gambling in Greater Sudbury.  At the closure of this campaign we will issue a challenge to the entertainment/cultural  business community to offer alternative forms of entertainment for seniors. Further, we will encourage other efforts to encourage seniors re-engagement with the community.  This is both a challenge and an opportunity for existing and new entertainment and cultural efforts.

The $100-150 million lost to gambling every year in the propsed full casino will be offset by money not spent in existing businesses. The $62-107 million removed is enough to build a new Arena/Event Centre every year!

The magnitude of these numbers should shock you.

Consider the magnitude of money spent on some of our existing cultural efforts ( ticket sales).

Cinefest - $225K
LOL Festival $170K
Science North $1.3M
IMAX $705K
Dynamic Earth $431K
Sudbury Arena, all events ( Wolves and concerts) $3.2Million

(Updated Jan 6th, 2018 to reflect claim by operator of 250 new jobs +140 exisiting)

(Updated Nov 26th, 2017 to reflect new information regarding proposed casino)

If the Ontario Government wants to increase tax revenues they should consider allowing communities to develop without the impediment of a casino. These large complexes compete directly with local entertainment/dinning and cultural establishments. The same establishments that make every community different form each other and create the environment that makes each community a great place to live and work.  It is these types of communities that attract the type of educated workforce that creates businesses, spur innovation and fosters organic growth. This results in higher household income, more jobs, and more tax revenue.
  There are a few businesses that do benefit from casinos, however, it is a fairly tight circle of businesses, directly dealing with the casino. The economic benefit to this small group can be significant, however, it is far outweighed by the economic losses inflicted on the other businesses in the community.

The primary recipient of the money removed by the casino is the Ontario Ministry of Finance. The casino is, in essence, a tax collecting enterprise.

Next Step...Endorse the Campaign

Supporting Data

FACT #1 The primary data for this graph was compiled from the Annual Small Business Survey conducted by Thunder Bay Ventures which is a federally funded business development institution. The survey is sent our every year to business located in Thunder Bay with 35 employees or less.  The database of businesses is obtained from the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
On average, 108 surveys are returned from the 700 sent out to local businesses.    You can visit their website here:

On the website you can download the individual surveys which makes for very interesting reading as there are many comments on the evolution of general business conditions in Thunder Bay, before and after the casino opened in 2000.
The preamble data was obtained through communications with Ken Boshcoff, the Mayor of Thunder Bay at the time the casino was brought to the city. Gambling loss data ( 50.2 Million) was obtained from the OLG financial report for 2012. You can download the entire report here:


FACT #2 The average household income was obtained from the 2016 BMA Municipal Survey.  The survey is 500+ pages of data comparing all 105 municipalities in Ontario. The survey contains a treasure trove of information on many aspects of municipalities in Ontario.  It can be downloaded here:

FACT #3 Google Maps, 100 or so, google population searches, and five cups of coffee.

FACT #4 The patron survey information was extracted from a survey done by the Ontario problem Gambling Institute in 2006. You can download the entire survey here:

The data for the table in this ad is extracted from the OLG Financial Report for the year ending March 31st, 2014. The report can be downloaded here:

IMPORTANT: The Trillium Foundation claims $1.4 Million is returned to charites in Sudbury, however, they include payments made to many entities outside the City of Greater Sudbury.  When examining the Trillium Foundation data and removing the sponsorships outside of Greater Sudbury, the actual number works out to 850K  +/-5K for each the last 5 years. You can view the archives of where the Trillium money is spent in reports posted here: 

FACT#6 Operator compensation data extracted from the request for proposal ( RFP) documents sent out by the OLG . You can download the RFP for the northern bundle here:

The expected revenues are based upon the statements by the city outlining their expected revenue from the new casino. Recent statements make these numbers conservative. ( Updated Nov 26, 2017 )250 Jobs @ 55K per year = approx. 13M ,Commercial tax rate used 3.68%, Mortgage based on $60 Million dollar build.

FACT#7 Common sense.