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AJAs 2020 Finalists

Sydney's Casino at 25


Slug/Label Sydney's Casino at 25
Date Aired or Published August-November 2020
Media outlet where first aired or published: The Cape Breton Spectator
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
List awards, grants: Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity-Investigative Journalism Intensive (Full Scholarship)
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Having grown up in Sydney, I knew the casino was once considered a failure. Its bungled launch attracted national attention. Yet it's continued to operate for over two decades, gaining an outsized, but rarely discussed, influence in the area. Many community residents have friends, family members or acquaintances who have struggled with casino gambling addiction. Despite this, there’s been little attention paid to the casino’s impacts. For its silver anniversary, I compared the realities of what the CBRM gained from hosting a casino, compared to what it was initially promised. Most, if not all, of the anticipated benefits never materialized as promised. This series took a year to fully come to fruition and was based on research I began at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s investigative journalism intensive. In addition to conducting a series of in-depth interviews, I spent hours accessing the Nova Scotia Gambling Corporation’s files at the provincial archives, seeking out reports from the legislative library and doing a thorough dive into newspaper archives spanning the 25-year period the casino's been open. My research also included several months of back-and-forth exchanges with Nova Scotia’s Health Authority and Department of Health and Wellness.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Mary Campbell, editor (and sole employee) of the Cape Breton Spectator spent a year off-and-on involved in this project from our first discussion to posting the final part of the series. Such a detailed project with a freelance writer was a first for the Spectator. Mary spent approximately 16 hours editing and formatting these stories for the website. This series wouldn't have been possible without her mentorship and oversight.

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