Toronto’s executive committee will be meeting today to discuss the possibility of a casino being built in the city. The committee will hear from some nearly 200 deputants at today’s meeting before deciding whether to gamble on the downtown venture.
Here’s what you need to know about the proposed Toronto casino project. And you can watch the debate, live here.
1. It Would be a Destination Resort
Developers are hoping for a world-class destination that would draw not only local residents through its doors, but also tourists from all over.
“The property we envision will be exceptional, one-of-a-kind, and reflective of Toronto’s unique character,” reads a description of the proposed property at TorontoCasinoFacts.ca, a website established by the Canadian Gaming Association..
“This type of property is referred to as a destination resort, because the gaming floor accounts for only a portion of the total space and the facility is of such high quality that it will draw guests from across the continent and around the world.”
2. Toronto’s History with Gambling
With the first Ontario casino opening nearly 20 years ago in Windsor, the province and the city are no stranger to gambling establishments. When the CNE casino is open during the month of August, betters can try their luck at 86 table games. They can also hit the slots and horse races at Woodbine.
Other gaming facilities within the GTA include Casino Rama, Slots at Georgian Downs, Great Blue Heron Charity Casino, and Ajax Downs Slots.
3. Location, Location, Location
4. Support to City
Supporters of the Toronto Casino plan argue that the facility would create significant economic benefits for the city. Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford argues that the casino would provide Toronto with up to $150-million in annual revenue.
“Increasing the number of tourists that visit our city will also increase tourism spending. A destination resort will enhance the business of existing hotels, restaurants, meeting facilities, and tourist attractions,” says TorontoCasinoFacts.ca.
5. Job Creation
The Canadian gaming industry currently creates approximately 253,487 jobs, with 85,433 of those in Ontario.
TorontoCasinoFacts.ca says that the proposed resort could create up to 12,000 new direct jobs and approximately 6,000 spin off jobs in construction and infrastructure.
6. OLG Responsibility
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) would be responsible for the casino. Currently, the OLG operates gaming facilities in 24 of the 29 zones across the province it’s identified for expansion. The remaining 5 zones are those being considered for a new casino.
7. Crime Rates
Some fear a casino downtown would increase rates of criminal activity within the city, but according to the Public Sector Gaming Study Commission, “The majority of the information collected during the past decade indicates that there is no link between gambling, particularly casino-style gambling, and crime. The security on the premises of gambling facilities, the multiple layers of regulatory control, and the economic and social benefits that gambling seems to offer to communities are effective deterrents of criminal activity.”
8. Problem Gamblers
— Modern OLG (@modern_olg) April 15, 2013
Worldwide rates of problem gambling hover consistently around 0.5% and 1.5%, according to research from 2008.
“No operator wants to do business with problem gamblers, and actively works to keep them out of casinos and provide access to help,” says TorontoCasinoFacts.ca.
The City would also make it a priority that any establishment, if approved, would have limited hours of operation, not 24-hours and would not offer things such as customer loyalty programs.
9. The Mayor Supports It
Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, supports the idea of a Casino in downtown Toronto, saying in an open letter, “After reviewing all available information, consulting with my Council colleagues and members of the public, I am confident Toronto faces a golden opportunity.”
Landowners from Liberty Village are at Executive Cmt today worried about casinos in neigbourhoods.
— Mike Layton (@m_layton) April 15, 2013
Deputant notes that Torontonians are consistently against a casino. 1997 referendum results: 71% opposed. 2013 consultation: 71% opposed.
— No Casino Toronto (@nocasinotoronto) April 15, 2013
Toronto International Boat Show President tells Ex Place board they oppose Casino.
— Gord Perks (@gordperks) April 12, 2013
It’s interesting to note that some councillors who traditionally support the mayor’s agenda, such as Denzil Minnan-Wong and John Parker, are opposing the proposed downtown facility. Other vocal opponents include local residents and councillors Adam Vaughan and Mike Layton.