How do I fight City Hall and stop the building of a casino?
February 4, 2013 6:15 PM   Subscribe

How do I fight City Hall and stop the building of a casino?

I know this is going to be a tough fight but I can't let this go without doing something. The mayor of our city, Ottawa (Canada) is gung-ho to build a gambling casino in our City. Later this year, the city council will vote on it, and failing a public upswell, it'll go ahead. I love this city and I think a casino will cause a deterioration in the quality of life here. Not only that, there is already a casino in across the bridge in Gatineau, Quebec, so the mayor's hopes for windfall profits are misplaced. I'm a newbie at social activism. I've done a little bit of reading and understand that petitions and the like are not effective. What I need to do is get tons of people to call their councillors and complain. What's the most effective and efficient way of getting this done?! I have a circle of maybe a half a dozen sympathetic ears so far. But now what? Aside from general advice, I'd love to hear from other people who know of successful anti-casino campaigns. What worked, what didn't work. Materials, posters, slogans, tactics that I could use....
posted by storybored to Law & Government (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, based on the recent pro/anti-casino fight near me, you go to the people who run the existing casino and get them to fund your "grassroots" anti-casino plank. Every month that the new casino stays open is probably a few million bucks in revenue for them, so they're the ones with the money to make it happen.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:25 PM on February 4, 2013 [8 favorites]

Do you know of other businesses that would replace the proposed jobs, tax revenues, etc that a new casino would generate? Your argument will be stronger if you have an alternative.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:25 PM on February 4, 2013

You could follow along with Toronto's anti-casino campaigns to get ideas.
posted by peagood at 6:27 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I cannot speak for Canadian politics or Ottawa specifically, but the way I would approach it here in NY would be to follow the money. Find out how much money the gambling lobby is donating to the campaigns of those who control the vote. You would need to either outspend them, shame the politicians by releasing the numbers and asserting they are buying the vote and/or come up with numbers or a study proving that it will not be the economic boom being promised and have studies showing how it will specifically be a deterioration in the quality of life. Then hit the press and as much media as you can.

It is my opinion that if it has gotten this far, you are fighting not just an uphill battle, but a vertical climb. Moral arguments and opinions trying to change a well financed decision that expects to raise revenue for the government is a political losing campaign.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:33 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

My city is currently going through this as well. No decision has been made yet so I can't tell you if this campaign is successful or not but definitely look for people to join your cause. Talk to local businesses that will be negatively affected by a casino, use social media to connect with people to join your cause and share ideas. This is part of Hamilton's anti-casino movement- CasiNO!
posted by Lay Off The Books at 6:36 PM on February 4, 2013

I've referred to this book elsewhere on Metafilter. It's The Activists' Handbook and it describes what you need to do to build a strong community campaign for/against something.
posted by Kerasia at 7:31 PM on February 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Your first question should probably be: is any organization already battling the casino that you could volunteer for or donate to?
posted by slidell at 7:46 PM on February 4, 2013

In the mid-90s fight over establishing a casino in Detroit -- sadly, sanity lost that one -- a rich debate took place, and was covered more or less by the local papers.
All parties agreed it was an outrage that a Canadian casino was sucking up Detroit cash. But then they diverged.
At one level the discussion was entirely venal, about which bunch of honest thieves should run the gaming den -- govt, local mob,Vegas mob, national mob, non-mob 'professionals,' this or that Indian tribe bureaucracy, etc.
But at another level it was quite profound. I recall reports of studies in different locales that showed a horrible correlation between a casino's opening and the rise of social ills like bankruptcy, prostitution, petty crimes, embezzlement, divorce, domestic abuse, drug addiction, and on and on -- it was unbelievable.
This is just my recollection, and not an endorsement of every study and every report. But the preponderance of evidence was truly stunning.
posted by LonnieK at 9:11 PM on February 4, 2013

Email or tweet-query Clive Doucet. (Retired city councilman for the Glebe neighborhood, and all-around good guy.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:52 PM on February 4, 2013

A Better Bet seems to be the leading anti-casino group.

And a group called Friends of Downtown Ottawa was doing the rounds last summer, but their site hasn't been updated since. You could check in to see if they're still active.
posted by valleys at 4:25 AM on February 5, 2013

No experience with Ottawa or Canada, but was just reading this Lifehacker post, which I think has some good, if generic, advice.

Those A Better Bet people, I think, have a pretty focused message that centers around slowing down and having conversations (and making clear that a lot of voters feel that way) vs. calling for angry phone calls or protests or whatever. IME, elected officials will generally respond better to "We have this problem and I'd like your help to find a solution" than "Here is the solution to a problem I have, when can you do it".

Good luck!
posted by substars at 1:42 PM on February 5, 2013

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