GTA could still host a casino, even if Toronto says no
Published Friday, March 22, 2013 9:15PM EDT
As Toronto gets set to debate the pros and cons of building a casino in downtown Toronto, municipalities north and west of the city are also being given serious consideration as possible gaming destinations.
The Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation (OLG) recently added the city of Vaughan to its shortlist of candidates for a new casino in the GTA, joining it with Toronto, Markham and Mississauga.
OLG president Rod Phillips said several sites are up for consideration, and options are not confined to Toronto.
“What we’ve said from the beginning is there’s a really unique opportunity in Toronto, but there would be one new gaming facility somewhere in the GTA,” Phillips said.
Markham is the frontrunner should Toronto council decline to host a gaming facility, sources told CTV News.
The city is located far enough from Woodbine Racetrack as to not cut into its business, but still within relative proximity to Toronto. It is also near highways and other road infrastructure that could support the increased traffic.
MGM Resorts International, one of several companies looking to build a gaming facility in Toronto, has said it is also eyeing an area near Buttonville Airport.
MGM partner Cadillac-Fairview co-owns the land, and the airport is set to close, indicating there is enough room for a gaming complex that would also include entertainment, retail and office space proposed for the development.
A site next to the proposed GTA Centre arena is another possible casino location, sources say.
Phillips said the decision over where to place a casino is currently a political one.
“There has been lots of speculation about sites but the first step is for Markham or Vaughan or Mississauga or Toronto to say they’re interested,” he said.
Markham council voted against playing host to a casino last summer, but industry insiders say that if a specific proposal was brought to council, councillors could still be convinced.
“Other municipalities … have a lot to offer and are deserving of serious consideration should Toronto say no,” Alan Feldman, MGM’s senior vice-president of public affairs, said Friday.
Etobicoke councillor Doug Ford said the city risks losing out if Toronto council doesn’t support a casino within its boundaries.
“What happens is we have no control over it, we don’t get a red cent from it and it would be the worst business decision the councillors have ever made for the city of Toronto,” Ford said.
Toronto council is set to debate the matter in late April or early May.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Natalie Johnson