gambling with the election

Once again, Yukon First Nations are pushing to establish a gambling joint. It was a dumb idea in the early ‘90s — the last time a big…

Once again, Yukon First Nations are pushing to establish a gambling joint.

It was a dumb idea in the early ‘90s — the last time a big push was on — and was soundly rejected by the community.

It’s a dumber idea today.

Gambling isn’t the big draw it was at the start of the ‘90s. Back then, the scheme’s champions were citing it as a tourism initiative.

Today, casinos are no longer rare. They’re found throughout Canada and the US. So games tables and slots aren’t going to be enough to lure people North.

Which is why the aboriginal consortium has changed its tune.

Now gambling will be a economic engine that will provide First Nations the money they need to house the elderly, treat addicts and to counsel the suicidal.

It’s a disingenuous argument because a casino will exacerbate the very problems its champions hope to fund.

Casinos are places that cater to the wealthy while preying on the poor.

A casino promises the least fortunate a chance to parlay a little money into a tidy fortune, improving their lot. Of course, the odds are stacked firmly against ‘em.

The wealthy can afford to blow a little cash. The poor can’t, and that’s the trap.

The result is growth in all social ills — addictions, poverty, crime, violence and broken homes.

Now, on the eve of an election, the idea is being floated again. This is no coincidence.

To date, successive Yukon governments have rejected the idea of expanding gambling opportunities beyond Diamond Tooth Gertie’s.

The aboriginal backers of this plan — again, Champagne/Aishihik First Nations seem the central player — are trying to make it an election issue.

The political parties would be well advised to reject the scheme outright and move onto serious ways of dealing with the territory’s widespread social ills. (RM)