"I've been told that these changes are to make the game easier for casual players"
it's easy enough already. With the friendship XP bonuses and anyone can catch legendaries off raids. It could scarcely be easier.
Niantic would be laying an egg if they go down that path further; "casual" players are not the ones who give them money. I myself have been a "casual" player for months at a time when i've gotten bored of the game, GO is the last thing i would spend my money on during those times.
Truth be told, it's hopeless to speculate on this until we see the changes.