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Actress Cynthia Dale on casinos

Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail

Dora Award-winning actress Cynthia Dale performs in 42nd Street , which runs from April 12 to Oct. 28 at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Where do you live?

I live in Stratford [Ont.] We have a place in Toronto as well.

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Do you gamble?

I'm an actor, so I gamble.

What about lottery tickets?

I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've bought lottery tickets.

Do you patronize casinos?

Never. I have performed in one. I was asked to come in and sing in a group concert. I think they are two separate things, a concert hall attached to a casino.

Do you see casinos as glamorous places, as they're often portrayed in films and on television?

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I think casinos are the least glamorous places. They play to the vulnerable, to the weaknesses in our society.

Are you in favour of a casino in Toronto?

I am absolutely against a casino in Toronto. I think it is an awful idea.

Why not Toronto? They seem to work, drawing tourists, creating jobs and boosting economies.

I wouldn't want one in Stratford. If [Toronto]needed it for its economic boom and it brings in money, then I understand. I think there are enough other things in Toronto that bring in money to the city and the province that the province does not need to build one. Because this is not a city thing, it is a provincial thing. There are enough other things that boost tourism, boost jobs and boost revenue if they are looked after smartly.

"Smartly" would seem to be the operative word. Casinos seem like a no-brainer for revenue generation.

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I think you should be suspicious of no-brainers. No-brainers mean the opposite of smart.

I don't think Toronto needs it. I don't think it would be a smart idea – the money that would go into building a casino, the downfalls from the extra crime. Maybe the money should be spent boosting one of the theatres that are closing in the city.

Can one lose money running a casino?

I think maybe you have to look at more than whether you are just making money. Think whether you are building up society. Whether you are playing to society's strengths instead of its weaknesses. As politicians, as leaders, that is part of your job, and it is part of our job to vote those people in and keep those people accountable.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his right-hand man and brother, Councillor Doug Ford, are keen on a casino, saying they will turn revenue returned to the city into subways.

And how is that working for them?

Speculation is for a casino on the site of washed-up Ontario Place, or nearby on the Canadian National Exhibition grounds, an area well past its prime. If a casino is inevitable, would those be the places to put it?

I say put it nowhere. There is no doubt that those areas need to be rejuvenated, but the onus is on people to come up with new ways to rejuvenate them, or to figure out if they can be viable still. You have to weigh the pros and cons as to what you are putting there and why you would just go for the easy money.

Michael Thompson, chair of Toronto's economic development committee, has been quoted as saying: "If done properly, [a casino]could certainly be an opportunity to create economic prosperity. But it can also create some economic despair as well, and I don't know how you balance that."

You have an economic adviser and he doesn't even know! And what are the first words out of his mouth? "If done properly." That's a big question. It is documented the problems that have faced Niagara Falls over the years [since its casino was built] And look at the problems that have faced Las Vegas. It is a fact that real-estate values are not going to go up around them. They are going to go down.

Fair enough, but the idea is the revenue generated will be turned to better roads and schools and hospitals.

Bribery. Bribery. They hit us right in the gut. It is irresponsible for leaders to use those words. Irresponsible for people to play on people's fears in society about those things not being supported.

If we, as a society, didn't live beyond our means, we would not need gambling and lottery revenues. We didn't need these things a couple of generations ago. Now they are ubiquitous.

There was always gambling.

Not government-run gambling.

"Government-run" gambling. It's an oxymoron, isn't it?

If that's how we as a society feel we have to justify living and justify paying for our bare necessities, schools and medicine and the arts … They're not extras. They are the bare necessities in life, and if we have to pay for it off the backs of the vulnerable, what kind of society are we? Walk through casinos. You do not find our better natures there.

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