EDITORIAL: Sensible slot decision

The decision to allow more slot machines in Abbotsford will no doubt displease some people, but it ultimately makes sense.

The decision to allow more slot machines in Abbotsford will no doubt displease some people, but it ultimately makes sense.

By a 5-4 vote Monday night, council gave approval to Chances Community Gaming Centre, which currently has 125 machines, to increase that number to a maximum of 275 machines.

Voting against the expansion were Couns. Simon Gibson, Henry Braun, Les Barkman and Dave Loewen.

Loewen pointed out that he has been opposed to slots from the start, on social and economic grounds, not morals.

While the negative aspects of gambling is a legitimate concern, with supporting research and tangible examples, less certain is the impact of a simple increase in the number of slot machines in an existing environment.

The fact of the matter is that Abbotsford has a segment of population that engages in slot machine gambling. It’s also a fact that Chances attracts non-resident gamblers.

The presence of gambling in this community, and the region, is a Pandora’s Box that was opened years ago.

Gambling establishments surround Abbotsford, and if this city didn’t have its own, devotees of this form of entertainment would go elsewhere.

Expansion of the number of slot machines does not automatically translate into local gamblers spending more. It also means an increased opportunity to draw attendance from outside the city’s boundaries.

Ultimately, gambling is a revenue stream for cities and charities, which receive a significant portion of the considerable proceeds.

That may represent dirty money to some. The government tax on liquor could be viewed in a similar vein.

However, this society is built on choices – albeit ome better than others.

In this case, the choice was clear. Slot machines are already here. They are  popular, generally accepted in the mainstream, and bring a measure of public benefit.

Moving on …