Saturday, February 4, 2006

Those Rowdy Canadians

The Super Bowl may be in Detroit, but the fun is across the river in Windsor.

Five minutes from downtown Detroit, the countdown to Super Bowl debauchery has begun. Soon, fans will be carousing with escorts and nude dancers while smoking Cuban cigars and stuffing thousands of dollars worth of gambling tickets in their pockets. That mix could result in jail time in Detroit, where Super Bowl XL will be held Sunday. But just across the Detroit River, it won’t draw a second look.

The people of this city are bracing for an onslaught of Super Bowl tourists, with the proximity to Detroit and Canada’s more liberal entertainment laws providing an enticing combination. In Windsor, fans can find government-licensed prostitutes, all-nude strip clubs open almost around the clock and serving alcohol until 2 a.m., legalized Super Bowl gambling through the provincial lottery, a legal drinking age of 19 and no trade embargos on Cuban goods.


The town has a waterfront casino, abundant restaurants, a favorable exchange rate, an international border that is easily manageable and an attitude that “what happens in Windsor stays in Windsor.” As Windsorites are quick to point out, laws are the same as in other Canadian cities, and were in place well before the Super Bowl was awarded to Detroit.

“I’m angry that they call us Sin City, because I’m envious of our position,” said Mark Boscariol, who owns five bars and restaurants in Windsor. “Because if you want to tempt your gluttony, you can do it at our restaurants. If you want to tempt your lust, you can do it at our nightclubs and strip joints. If you want to tempt your greed, you can try your luck at the casino. If you’re feeling a little bit of sloth, you can hang out in one of our lounges. Our entertainment industry is something we have as a natural resource, and it’s a fit, and we’re hoping to promote it.”

Travel tip: you can really get some great deals on liquor and cigars at the Ambassador Bridge duty-free shop on your way back from Canada…not that I drink or smoke or anything… but ask my dad about the deals he made by turning in his hotel GST receipts and getting some really fine Scotch.

The Canadians I know cheerfully acknowledge that they rely on the sanctimonious and puritanical nature of American laws to make a good living off their proximity to the border. More power to them.