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Bygone Winnipeg: A fictitous story based on true events: University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine 1932-1944

David Topper

By DAVID TOPPER Call me a witness. I was there and heard almost everything that’s relevant to this story.
Yet, thinking deeper, I guess you could call me a spy – well, at least, some may say that, for there was an element of skulduggery in my employment situation. It was all because of my father, who changed my name when I was born. Of course, we’re all born with a surname, but―

 

Wait. Let’s first go back to my grandfather, Moshe Levinstein, who was born in Russia, and who as a young man experienced a small pogrom – small in terms of later ones – which was enough to convince him to emigrate as fast as he could. Several people were killed, a house was burned down, and there was a rape – that ‘small’ event drove him to leave Russia, forever. He never looked back, even when Winnipeg, Canada turned out not to be quite the paradise he expected. Because he quickly found that anti-Semitism was endemic.

My father, Solomon Levinstein, while growing up, saw the struggle his parents went through being Jews in a Christian country (with the English majority Protestant, and the minority French Catholic), and he wanted to protect me as best he could when I was born. He wanted me to fit into the social fabric more than he ever could. And since I turned out to be a girl, there were even more barriers on my horizon – ‘closed doors,’ he called it. He told us that he was thinking about all this when I was still in my mother’s womb. You see, he liked to ‘plan ahead,’ which was another of his favourite phrases.

Oh, speaking of being in the womb: my grandmother died when my mother was eight months pregnant with me, and so I was supposed to be named some variation of Minnie Levinstein, as is the Jewish tradition. But since my father was obsessed with my fitting in better than he did, and he also wanted me to get through some otherwise ‘closed doors’ – I was named Mildred Evans. He said Evans and ‘Levins’ rhyme, and so do Millie and Minnie. It was also a nice Aryan-sounding name, “as the Germans would say,” he said.

Mind you, while growing up as Mildred Evans, I nonetheless didn’t hide my Jewishness. Indeed, I often went to synagogue on Saturday/Sabbath. But then, I also often went to church on Sunday and―
Um, I guess I need to explain that. You see, my best friend was Mary O’Brian, which tells you that she was probably Irish Catholic, which she was. Now, here’s my perspective in all of this. I was very precocious and very smart and I read a lot. I liked languages. On weekends I enjoyed Hebrew in the Synagogue and Latin in the Church. Two ancient languages, one dead except for the Christian Mass, and the other kept alive in prayer and Torah study. Plus, you must remember that Latin was still taught in schools at this time; it was part of a Liberal Arts education in the first half of the 20th century. Many universities required High School Latin for entrance to their freshman classes. As well, to me, the Mass was like an opera, with singing and those glorious organ pipes vibrating and echoing throughout the church. Mary and I, by-the-by, went to the beautiful Cathedral in St. Boniface, with the astonishing and huge Rose window. You see, there were no organs in any synagogue. And so, it was not so strange for this Jew to enjoy the Catholic Mass as a musical event. Think of Bach, a devout Lutheran, who wrote his wonderful Mass in B-minor.

Anyway, to me the Mass was a show, and it was free – well not completely free, since the church always passed around a collection basket near the end of the service – a sort of pay-what-may type thing, you could say. I remember that Mary, when I took her to her first synagogue service, was surprised that there was no collection at the end, especially since after the service there was an oneg in the social hall, with food galore. But I digress.

The service of the Mass, to me, was not entirely unfamiliar, since there were many prayers and texts that borrowed passages from what they called The Old Testament: many of the sayings of the prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others. “But what about the stuff on Jesus?” you may be asking, eh? Well, you see, I read a lot of history, as I told Mary – and I must say she was shocked when I first told her this; although eventually she (well, sort of) agreed with me – well, I told her that Jesus was not a Christian, but a Jew named Yeshua, and he always was; ‘Jesus’ was the later Latinized name. He had some differences with the Jewish hierarchy at the time, along with problems with the Romans who occupied the Holy Land, so much so that they (the Romans) crucified him. It was after his death that Christianity was born, due in large part to the preaching and writing of a Jew name Saul, whose name was later Latinized to ‘Paul’ after he had a vision of the resurrected Yeshua/Jesus. Saul/Paul made a strong case for rejecting many Jewish practices (such as circumcision), so much so that his sect broke free from its Jewish root. They became known as ‘Christians,’ since Paul preached that Yeshua was the real messiah (or ‘anointed one’), which in Greek is ‘Kristos,’ later Latinized to ‘Christus.’

Mary laughed when I said that therefore you might call the birth of Christianity a Jewish conspiracy. “Oh Millie,” she said. “You’re so smart it sometimes scares me. What is going to happen to you?”
Good question.
So, what did happen to me? Well it helped being smart, that’s for sure. Very smart, indeed. But not pushy. No, not pushy or impudent in any way. Not at all. You see, I was (and still am) happy with less – a lot less than I probably could have had. Yes, I lived (and still live) parsimoniously.

Well, I got a university education with excellent grades (as you might expect) but I didn’t go any further, although I could have, and was encouraged to do so. But I saw the university system as a barrier to women. And I was not inclined to fight the system. As I said, I was satisfied with less. While still a student at the University of Manitoba, I got part-time secretarial jobs, since I was a fabulous typist and proof reader. Even before I graduated, I was offered a full-time position as a secretary in the English Department, since their long-time-serving woman was thinking of retiring. And in the end, after graduation, I got the job.

It was the best decision of my life, looking back on it. You see, in this job I could go home at 5pm to my modest house not far from the university and forget about the job until the next morning. In the warmer weather I could walk to and fro; although in the dead of winter I took the short bus ride. After all, it was Winnipeg. And at home I could read whatever I wanted. Play the piano. Do my art work: drawing (pencil and/or pen & ink) and painting (only watercolour). Listen to the radio. And I read as much as I wanted: lots of books, magazines, and newspapers. I got the New York Times Sunday edition in the mail every week; it was a bit late, of course, but there were so many articles of interest that it was a source of almost endless reading throughout the week. For example, I recently came across this quote from the famous Albert Einstein in an article about him: “Perhaps it is due to anti-Semitism that we can preserve ourselves as a race; at least, this is what I believe.” I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this, especially in light of what I am going to tell you later. Incidentally, when I was a student, there were no Jewish professors on the faculty. Even as late as the mid-1940s, there were still only four Jewish professors.

In contrast to my life, my boss’s home life was filled with lectures to prepare, and even on weekends there were papers to mark, exams to compose and later to mark. And so it went. He often told me I was fortunate to be able to start a book and just read it at my leisure, right through if I wished. He confided in me that he seldom had time to read half of what he wanted to. I believe he liked talking to me, since I was smart. He often asked my advice regarding even the content of the texts that I was typing for him. We got along swimmingly, as you might surmise. We had a very good rela―

Okay, before you start fantasizing further, let me stop you. There was nothing beyond our professional relationship. Nothing at all. Throughout the university, in all my jobs – nothing. No flirting, never. I had no affairs in those years in various secretarial positions, if that’s what you’re thinking. And here’s why: I am not attractive. I knew this in High School, and was satisfied with it. Remember, I like a simple life, and I discovered that this unattractive state makes life uncomplicated – or, at least, less complicated than it otherwise might be. I could see among my classmates in school that the (let’s call them) ‘attractive’ girls had a life that was a roller-coaster ride. Up, happy, being gleeful; down, way down, when a guy dumped them. Yes, I saw some girls get really down; had to take pills; some even admitted to hospital. I thought: who needs this crap? I don’t want those ups and downs; I want a straight ride, flat. “Yes, just flat,” as I told Mary. She laughed, “Well that’s not the only thing that’s flat for you, huh”? We both had a good laugh at that. Remember we were best friends, and each could take a joke.

So, I tell you: my so-called ‘unattractiveness’ was a gift. Which I took and ran with, you might say. Today, you see: I wear no make-up, have a simple straight hair-do extending below my ears but not touching my shoulders, wear loose and non-flashy blouses, have only skirts far below my knees, and I wear sensible shoes – namely, flats (oh, that word again). All this ensured that my relationships with the men under whom I worked at the university would remain strictly professional. Let’s put it this way. I always had a good night’s solo sleep, if you know what I mean.

Of course, this is not to say that I never had an intimate relationship with anyone, but rather that it was not with any of my bosses – and I will leave it at that, for this has gone far beyond the original topic. But – and I emphasize this – all this is not a digression, for I very much want you to know about me and my life at the University of Manitoba, so as to put this story into context and to show how and why what I am going to tell you should not only be believed, but also taken seriously.

Further, to set the stage: I got along well with my fellow all-female secretaries and other staff at the university. My plainness was interpreted as a sort of prissiness, which is not true, but they didn’t know that. As Mildred Evans, I was asked what church I went to, and I told them St. Boniface Cathedral, since I did go to it when my friend Mary and I were kids, so strictly speaking my answer was no lie. Although I know their question had a different meaning. (Incidentally, Mary is now married and living in Toronto, raising her four kids.) They then asked why I go all the way to the other city to attend church and I told them it was about the music and the organ. They understood, and asked no more.

Also, due to my modest behaviour, they questioned why I was not a nun, and it led to them jokingly calling me Sister Millie. I said there was no such St. Mildred, although this may not be true, but then what do Protestants know about saints? – since Luther, Calvin, and the others eschewed them, along with the Virgin Mary, from their theology. And speaking of joking: being ‘Sister Millie’ among these Protestants, I was in an opportune position to reprimand them when they occasionally told anti-Semitic jokes or made similar remarks. And I did. As an art-lover, I also took the occasions to lecture them on the destruction of so much art by the Protestants during the Reformation: defacing and burning paintings, smashing statues, destroying stained-glass windows, and more. They knew none of this; it was a shock to them. They were not taught such things in Sunday-school, they said.

And that brings me to the reason for telling you all this in the first place. For, as I began, I said I was a witness, or even a spy. But for what? Well, for what may be called the backroom conversations. The secret disc―
Wait, I’m getting ahead. Uh, let’s start here: After many years with the English Department, I was promoted to being secretary for the new Dean of Medicine, Dr. Warren Matthews. It began for me at end of term in late May 1932. Although the Dean’s term began in September, he occasionally came around during the summer months to bring things (books, files, and such) so that his office was ready in the fall. He got to know me a bit and seemed very pleased and comfortable with me. His wife, Eleanor, even came with him one summer day – I believe, to check me out. She was nicely dressed, looking very Anglo-Saxonish prim and proper, if there is such a thing. When she saw me, she first looked me straight in my eyes and, while she was saying some pleasantries, she panned down my body to my feet and back up to my face, and ended with a self-assured smile on her face. I passed, since I was clearly no threat to her sexuality, whatever there was of it.

I spent the summer getting adjusted to the new office, going through the files and sometimes reorganizing them my way, and changing some things around in the physical space of the office. For one thing, I preferred keeping my office door to the university closed, but with a COME IN sign, when I was there. I didn’t like the constant background noise and chatter, as well as obtrusive eyes walking past an open door. That summer, I also had lots of typing to do both for the new Dean and for others in the Department of Medicine.

By the fall, when the Dean came in for the new term, we could get right to work. And we did. We quickly developed a good working relationship. He was obviously comfortable with me, for he shortly said that I should just call him ‘Warren.’ Interestingly, he liked me keeping my door closed, since he preferred keeping his door open. He said he was a bit claustrophobic, plus he liked to hear my typing – it had a musical rhythm that he found restful. Importantly, this meant that I was privy to confidential remarks by the Dean and those who ran the administration of the university when they were in his office. In short, I was able to eavesdrop. And eavesdrop I did! And that’s why I’m telling you this.

But this spying came later. The reason I am telling you this is because of an event that took place not long after he got settled into his new office. I can still remember the day. It was first thing in the morning, and after the “how are you” etc., he told me to look at the records of students admitted to the Medical School in terms of their ethnic origin, particularly noting how many of them were Jews. “We already have too many Jews, Millie,” he said. It was a jolt, and although I’m sure I showed no visible signs of my reaction, internally I was shaken. So much so that I almost blew my cover. Yes, even as Mildred Evans, Sister Millie, it―

Well, it’s hard to explain. I was tempted, of course, to ask why, … but, of course, I didn’t. “I’ll get to it right away, Warren,” was the best thing I could say at the time, and I turned away walking toward a filing cabinet, as any loyal Anglo-Saxon secretary would do, but with shaking hands that I hid from my boss.
I found that on the application form there was a line for ‘racial origin,’ and so I was able to do my job. I discovered that throughout the 1920s there were usually about 64 students per year admitted, with 18-25% being Jewish. Other ethnic groups also came – Ukrainian, Polish, German, and so forth, but in smaller percentages. Most, not surprisingly, were Anglo-Saxon – good English stock, according to Warren. When I presented my finding to him, I added another category, and I prefaced it by saying that I hoped he didn’t think I was being impudent in doing so. It was the number of women admitted, which was very low – often none, sometimes one or two. Warren smiled and said it was fine for me to be “conscious of my sex” and he blushed after he said it. I think hearing himself saying the word ‘sex’ out-loud to me, well, it jolted him – the way, on the previous day, his word ‘Jews’ jolted me.

Subsequently, my eavesdropping elicited more examples of anti-Semitism endemic to the faculty, as he chatted in his office with other administrators, keeping his door open. They all agreed. “Too many pushy Jews.” “Since they invariably get high grades in school, if we don’t put a lid on the enrolment, soon they will all be Jews.” “If we don’t do something now, well Jews will take over the faculty.” “First the Jews and then Ukrainians or Poles.” “At least the Frenchies have their own college in St. Boniface.” And so it went – a litany of bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice straight from the mouths of the administrative faculty to the ears of Mildred Evans. At most, a few made mild queries as to the efficacy of it, and the possibility of “aggressive Jewish lawyers” filing a legal case against the practice.

In the end there was a quota system initiated for all incoming classes, keeping the Jewish enrolment low. In 1936, for example, only nine got in. In later years even fewer. Out of 60 or more students, sometimes only four to six were Jewish. Of course, this meant that Anglo-Saxon students with far lower grades than Jewish students were admitted in place of them. And this was for a school to train physicians, dealing with life and death. “Just what we need – dumber doctors,” I told my Jewish friends. You see, I didn’t hide my clandestine information. I told anyone who would listen to me. Unfortunately, where it might make a difference, I got indifference, brought on by fear. Rabbis were afraid to do anything. They went along with the quota rule. “Don’t make waves, things could get worse,” was a standard response. Yes, they went along with the quota system. “Don’t look like a ‘pushy Jew,’ at least we get the ones that we get,” I was told. “Look, honey, be happy with four to six doctors a year,” I was told to my face by a rabbi’s wife. The same thing from the Jewish establishment. The B’nai Brith was afraid to do anything because it might backfire and only make matters worse. Similarly, for the Canadian Jewish Congress, which was reluctant to get involved in this Winnipeg issue. “What wimps,” I told my friends. I did the best I could. I didn’t blow my cover.

For me this thing came to a head in 1943, when the med school again turned down many Jewish and some other ‘ethnic’ students, so as to admit Anglo-Saxon students with (in this case) not only lower grades – but they also admitted some students who didn’t even pass their university exams and thus were required to go to summer school! To me, this was the last straw. The Jewish students’ Avakah Zionist Society got wind of this and began to bring all this out into the open. They eventually got the help of a Jewish lawyer and, yes, a fuss was raised and pressure was put on the Board of the University of Manitoba.

Finally, in 1944, after a dozen years of overt discrimination, the Medical School removed the racial and religious categories in their application. The quota rule finally ended. I celebrated with my Jewish friends. And, yes, Mildred “Prissy” Evans got a little tipsy.
Speaking of celebrating. In 1949, Dr. Warren Matthews was awarded an Honourary Doctor of Laws for his dedicated service to the University. I was invited to a private party for him, but I made up some excuse as to why I couldn’t make it. You see, I was afraid that if I did go, I would not be able to control myself, and proper Mildred Evans, aka Sister Millie, would perform the very unladylike act of making a scene by copiously spitting into the party’s punch bowl.

* * *

 

 

 

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Features

A Jewish Perspective on the Hidden Gems of Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta

Nestled along Mexico’s Pacific coast, Nuevo Vallarta and its neighboring city, Puerto Vallarta, have become popular destinations for travelers seeking sun, sea and cultural experiences. For Jewish travelers, exploring these cities offers a unique blend of relaxation and discovery; from pristine beaches to vibrant local culture, here’s a perspective on the hidden gems these destinations offer.

Traveling to Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta

Barceló Puerto Vallarta: A Tranquil Haven

Among the myriad of accommodations in the region, the Barceló Occidental Nuevo Vallarta (with bookings at https://www.barcelo.com/en-ca/occidental-nuevo-vallarta/) stands out as a serene retreat. Situated on Mismaloya Beach, this resort combines traditional Mexican architecture with modern amenities. Its all-inclusive packages cater to families, couples and solo travelers, providing an ideal base for exploring both Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta.

Exploring Nuevo Vallarta

Embracing Nature at El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary

Nature enthusiasts will appreciate El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary, located a short drive from Nuevo Vallarta. This sanctuary not only preserves native wildlife but also offers educational tours that delve into the region’s ecosystem. For Jewish travelers, it provides an opportunity to connect with nature while appreciating Mexico’s biodiversity.

Cultural Insight at the Marina Vallarta

The Marina Vallarta, known for its upscale ambiance and waterfront dining, offers a glimpse into local life. Jewish travelers can explore boutique shops and art galleries while enjoying a variety of international cuisines. The marina’s lively atmosphere during sunset, with boats bobbing gently in the marina and street performers entertaining passersby, creates a memorable experience.

Discovering Puerto Vallarta

Historic Exploration in the Zona Romántica

Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romántica, also known as Old Vallarta, beckons history buffs and culture seekers. Cobblestone streets wind through quaint neighborhoods lined with colorful colonial architecture. Jewish travelers can visit the Zona Romántica’s eclectic art galleries, boutique cafes and the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage.

Artistic Marvels at the Malecón

A stroll along the Malecón, Puerto Vallarta’s oceanfront promenade, reveals a treasure trove of sculptures and open-air art installations. From the whimsical Seahorse sculpture to the thought-provoking Millennium sculpture series, each artwork tells a story of Mexico’s artistic spirit. Jewish travelers can engage with local artists and appreciate the vibrant cultural tapestry that defines Puerto Vallarta.

Culinary Delights

Savoring Kosher-Friendly Cuisine

While kosher options are limited in Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta, some restaurants and resorts offer kosher-friendly menus upon request. The culinary scene in both cities blends traditional Mexican flavors with international influences, ensuring there is something to satisfy every palate. Jewish travelers can indulge in fresh seafood ceviche, traditional tacos al pastor and refreshing aguas frescas while soaking in the coastal ambiance.

Community Engagement

Connecting with Local Jewish Communities

For Jewish travelers interested in community engagement, both Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta host small Jewish communities. Synagogues and Jewish community centers welcome visitors seeking spiritual connection and cultural exchange. Engaging with local Jewish communities provides a deeper understanding of Mexican-Jewish heritage and fosters meaningful connections across cultures.

Final Note

Nuevo Vallarta and Puerto Vallarta offer Jewish travelers a blend of relaxation, cultural exploration and natural beauty. Whether basking in the sun on pristine beaches, exploring historic neighborhoods or savoring culinary delights, these cities provide a rich tapestry of experiences. With accommodations like the Barceló Puerto Vallarta offering comfort and convenience, travelers can immerse themselves in Mexico’s Pacific coast while appreciating its hidden gems from a unique perspective.

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Features

Gambling Statistics Shine Light on Canadian Gambling Culture

Explore pivotal statistics that highlight Canada’s gambling culture. Get a concise overview of the trends shaping the nation’s betting landscape.

Canada’s gambling culture is as diverse as its landscape, and recent statistics shed light on this thriving sector. From coast to coast, Canadians engage in various forms of betting, each with its own set of trends and numbers. This article delves into the data, uncovering the patterns and preferences defining gambling nationwide.

Canadian Gambling Statistics

User penetration refers to the percentage of consumers engaging with a product or service beyond the expected audience. Despite a 47% decline in 2023, the online gambling industry is projected to expand.

By 2027, it’s forecasted that the gambling market will cater to 20.38 million individuals. This trend suggests an increasing preference among Canadians for online gambling over traditional brick-and-mortar casinos.

The industry boasted a 97% return on investment in 2022, outperforming land-based casinos, which only saw a 61% return. With the rising interest in online betting, Canada’s online casino industry is experiencing the highest user penetration rate.

What Is the Average Expenditure on Gambling by Canadians?

Many enjoy the thrill of the occasional game of chance. The fact that you can retain all of your earnings, as there are no taxes on gambling profits in Canada, adds to the allure of gambling. In Canada, winnings are subject to taxation only for professional gamblers with a sustained winning streak.

In recent years, the trend toward online casinos has changed. The pandemic-induced closures of land-based casinos accelerated this change. It’s a profitable industry, as 60% of Canadians say they spend money gambling each month.

Canadian gambling statistics:

  • Six out of ten Canadians have gambled.
  • The monthly average expenditure for gaming and gambling in Canada is $6.75.
  • A month’s worth of gaming expenses is reported by 63% of males and 57% of women.
  • According to 73% of Canadians, gambling-related issues have gotten worse in their region.

The Increasing Attraction to Online Casino Gambling in Canada

An increasing number of Canadians are using online casinos, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. They offer various benefits regular casinos do not and are more convenient. Over time, land-based casinos’ revenue has decreased due to the growing popularity of online gambling sites.

The pandemic shutdowns accelerated the drop. For instance, the land-based casinos in Alberta no longer make as much money as they once did. Consequently, the Albertan government opened an online casino, and other governments quickly adopted similar strategies.

Casino Games at Online Casinos in Canada

Online casinos in Canada offer various games that cater to different preferences. Some of the most popular casino games at Canadian online casinos include:

  • Slots: These are the most common and varied, with themes ranging from classic fruit machines to the latest online slot games with advanced graphics and features.
  • Table Games: Classics like blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat are available in multiple variations.
  • Live Dealer Games: These provide an immersive experience, allowing players to interact with real dealers and other players in real time.
  • Video Poker: A favourite for many, combining elements of slots and poker in a unique format.
  • Progressive Jackpots: Games that offer the chance to win life-changing sums of money with a single spin.
  • Canadian Legalities for Online Gambling Sites
  • Casinos are legal in Canada, but each province and territory has the authority to establish its gaming regulations and issue online gambling website licences. Saskatchewan is the only province that does not host multiple online gaming sites.
  • Authorities in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba issue licences without a specific requirement, but these online casinos must operate exclusively within their respective provincial borders. Online gaming sites seeking to operate beyond these borders need a special agreement.
  • In Canada, only land-based casinos face penalties; foreign operators can only function by obtaining local licenses. Although offshore casinos cannot legally target Canadian players, they can accept them.
  • Statistics on Gambling Addiction in Canada
  • While the majority of gamblers do so without experiencing issues, there are hazards and health issues associated with it for some people. Because of this, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) carries out studies and creates resources aimed at assisting Canadians in making wise decisions regarding their gambling, both generally and, in particular, high-risk scenarios, like when they’re using alcohol or other drugs.
  • Here are some key statistics on gambling addiction in Canada for the year 2024:
  • 64.5% of Canadians aged 15 or older actively participated in gambling activities within the past year.
  • 1.6% of Canadian gamblers, representing approximately 304,400 individuals, face moderate-to-severe gambling addiction risks.
  • Canadian males reported higher gambling participation and addiction risks compared to females.
  • Indigenous Canadians showed a higher tendency to gamble (72.4%) and experienced greater susceptibility to gambling problems (4.5%) than non-Indigenous people.
  • In Canada, responsible gambling is promoted through various programs and initiatives, ensuring that individuals engage in betting activities within their means and maintain control. The emphasis is on providing resources and support to prevent gambling addiction and encourage safe, enjoyable gaming experiences.
  • Reflecting on Canada’s Responsible Gambling Journey
  • The statistics we’ve explored offer a revealing glimpse into Canada’s gambling culture, highlighting both the widespread appeal and the responsible practices of Canadian bettors. As the industry evolves, it reflects the country’s commitment to balancing entertainment with economic benefit and social responsibility. The future of gambling in Canada seems poised to be driven by informed choices and a clear understanding of the risks and rewards involved.
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Features

Caesars Windsor Reduces Operating Hours for Sports Betting Counter

Sports betting has rapidly evolved into a major attraction, drawing a diverse audience ranging from casual participants to dedicated enthusiasts, and its popularity is only increasing with the proliferation of online platforms. In particular, Canada has seen a notable rise in sports betting activities since the legalization of single-event sports betting in August 2021, which opened doors to a multitude of betting avenues, both in physical locations and online. 

The shift towards online sportsbooks has been especially significant, marking a notable change in the landscape of sports betting. Given the expansive range of online sportsbooks available to Canadians, experts like Neil Roarty provide critical reviews and comparisons that guide bettors through the complex array of online options. These sites delve into the nuances of each platform, evaluating everything from user interface and betting options to the perks and security features they offer (source: bestsportsbettingcanada.ca/).  

Despite the rising trend in online betting, traditional sportsbooks like those in casinos are adjusting to the new landscape. Caesars Windsor, for instance, has recently made significant changes to its sports betting services. Initially projected to increase job opportunities and enhance visitor footfall, thereby boosting various service-related positions within the casino, the reality has somewhat shifted. 

The casino’s CEO, Kevin Laforet, had expressed optimism at the sportsbook’s inauguration in January 2023, citing anticipated growth in employment opportunities due to expected higher traffic. This optimism was rooted in the broader economic benefits typically associated with casino expansions, such as increased employment for local and migrant communities including roles like dealers, bartenders, and security staff.

However, recent developments have seen Caesars Windsor recalibrating its approach to sports betting. According to a spokesperson from the casino, after a detailed review of betting trends at their facility, adjustments were necessary to align the sportsbook’s operations with actual guest preferences and patterns. 

As a result, the sportsbook has scaled back its operating hours to 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. each day, which has led to minor staffing changes. Importantly, all affected staff members have been retained, and the sportsbook continues to operate during peak times, especially during significant sporting events, with kiosk betting available 24/7.

Jessica Welman, editor of the Canadian Gaming Business, remarks on the overwhelming preference for online sports gambling over traditional brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. The convenience of placing bets via a smartphone or computer is a significant draw for many, enhancing the accessibility and appeal of online betting. 

Welman further noted that the market for online betting in Ontario has expanded consistently each quarter since its legalization, highlighting a robust growth trajectory that underscores the market’s potential.

However, the relationship between online gambling and its impact on physical casino revenues is complex and not well-documented. Sports betting reporter Greg Warren pointed out that most casinos do not specifically track how much of their revenue comes from sports betting as opposed to other gambling activities, which muddles the ability to analyze precise trends. 

Yet, experiences from the United States suggest that both in-person and online sportsbooks can experience growth simultaneously, indicating a synergistic relationship rather than a competitive one. According to Warren, the distinct experiences offered by online platforms and physical sportsbooks mean they can coexist and cater to different preferences.

Welman supports this view, suggesting that despite the convenience of online options, there is an enduring appeal for the physical experience of in-person betting. She argues that brick-and-mortar casinos provide a unique atmosphere that can’t be replicated online, serving as a draw for those who prefer the tangible excitement of a live betting environment. 

In line with its diverse offerings, Caesars Entertainment also maintains an online gaming app, which complements its physical sportsbook operations. This app is designed to offer users a seamless integration between the convenience of digital betting and the engaging atmosphere of in-person wagering. 

While specific details on the app’s impact on the casino’s overall business were not disclosed, it represents an integral part of Caesars’ strategy to bridge the gap between traditional and digital gambling experiences. This dual approach not only caters to a broader range of consumer preferences but also positions Caesars to capitalize on the growing trend of mobile and online betting.

As the landscape of sports betting continues to evolve, the interaction between online and in-person gambling platforms will undoubtedly remain a key area of focus for industry observers and participants alike. By maintaining a strong presence in both arenas, Caesars is well-equipped to adapt to changing consumer habits and technological advancements that have seen real money online casinos cornering many gambling markets worldwide, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of the gambling industry. 

This strategic integration highlights the potential for more synchronized growth and innovation within the gambling sector, shaping the future of how sports betting is experienced across different platforms.

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