Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/9/2013 (1416 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The expansion of Club Regent's concert hall will undoubtedly enhance the city's entertainment marketplace by adding a larger state-of-the-art facility that will draw a new range of performers.
It will also serve a multi-purpose role as a banquet, wedding and conference centre, bringing in revenue that is ultimately returned to the community.
The concern, however, is the new 1,400-seat venue will cut into the business provided by older facilities, particularly the Burton Cummings Theatre and Pantages Playhouse, both historic buildings that receive some taxpayer support.
Most of the acts at Club Regent and McPhillips Street Station are drawn from a North-American wide casino circuit, including retro groups like Paul Revere and the Raiders that wouldn't normally perform in other venues in the city.
It's impossible to say, then, how much business might be lost to the city's historic stages, but nor should it be a reason for blocking progress at the two casinos, which want to ensure their product is fresh and exciting for their clients, who include out-of-town guests.
The province and city, however, shouldn't forget they have a duty to support the community's cultural gems, which they have done, if unevenly, over the years. The Burt and Pantages aren't going to be torn down, so the public sector and community foundations have to accept their responsibility to ensure they succeed.
Manitoba Lotteries is understandably trying to maximize its business success, but there's the rub.
If the casinos were private enterprises, no one would question their zeal.
But because the government is the owner, operator and regulator of gambling, questions of fairness and transparency naturally arise.
The province may claim, for example, it is doing all it can do to control problem gambling, but would it demand more of a private operator?
It may say expanding Club Regent's concert capacity is good for everyone, even though everyone does not agree.
As long as the government insists on wearing multiple hats, it will be prone to allegations it is exploiting its position as a monopoly operator.
As with liquor, the province should consider whether everyone would be better off with private operators under government regulation.