Toronto Considers New Casino Operations
Canadian gaming has been a feature of our neighbor to the north for quite a while, but Toronto has thus far resisted the lure of a major casino industry within the city; at the moment the closest casino to Toronto is the Woodbine Racetrack, about 31 kilometers from Toronto.
Toronto is now considering its first casino, though, and Ceasars Entertainment is proposing to be the first in this major Canadian city. It is teaming up with Rock Gaming, who it has built other casinos with in Cincinnati and Cleveland. The casino would be under the Ceasars brand, and Ceasars has already released mockups of what the casino would look like. It would include a park, various retail establishments, dining, a year round amphitheater and two hotel towers.
The two locations Ceasars Entertainment is looking at is the downtown area and Exhibition place, but they say that they will consider whatever location Toronto makes available.
MGM is also considering the Canadian city, and has hired a local lobbying firm to help them in the process, but in Toronto itself the city is split on whether it would be a good idea for the city. So far MGM and Ceasars are the only major players but they are two of the largest gambling concerns in the world, and both of them build entertainment complexes around their casinos which would employ many people in ancillary industries.
The people who are opposed to gambling coming to Toronto say that that is part of the problem, and that such a facility would cause some local businesses to close their doors.
The people who want a casino in Toronto cite the fact that the casino would bring an influx of new tourists to the city, and put Toronto on a par with New York in attracting tourists from India and China, but the people who do not want a casino anywhere in the city are not convinced. Of course, the increased tax revenue and jobs are always a consideration as well.
Says Councilor Adam Vaughn, an opponent of the plan: “The issue isn’t the razzle dazzle of the name of the proponent; the issue is what’s good for Toronto.”
Whether a casino would be good for the city, though, depends entirely upon whom you ask. For instance, the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is willing to listen to all offers and says if the project would bring in $200 million a year, he said “absolutely I’m voting for it.”
Other politicians in Canada are not surprised that major players are showing interest now that the idea has been raised. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has some control over the decision, but say they will not place a casino in Toronto if the city decides they do not want one.
Woodbine Racetrack, mentioned above, is currently the closest casino but it only offers slot machines and race betting, with no table games and limited entertainment venues. Toronto is expected to start public consultations soon, and come to a decision by February or March of 2013.
The additional tax revenue is expected to be around $190 million a year, but part of that will depend on how the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission splits the proceeds with the city.