Toronto casino will bring in cash, but also healthcare risks, report finds
Published Monday, October 29, 2012 12:44PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 29, 2012 1:27PM EDT
Toronto stands to greatly benefit economically from a new casino, but some of the city’s residents and surrounding communities are also likely to suffer health risks as a result, a new report finds.
The findings, released Monday by Toronto’s city manager, highlight the issues that will be up for public debate in Toronto's consideration of hosting a casino here.
The report comes exactly one week ahead of a discussion scheduled on the topic by Mayor Rob Ford's executive committee.
In comments earlier this month, Mayor Ford has said he’s in favour of a building a casino in the city, “if it benefits the taxpayers, we can make money and it creates good, paying jobs.”
According to the report, the city stands to reap a host of benefits in the event a casino is built here, including:
- Between $0.8 billion and $2.4 billion in new construction spending, depending on where and what is built;
- Between 2,700 and 7,300 net new jobs, also contingent on what is built and where;
- The injection of an additional $27 million per year in property taxes, in the case of an "integrated entertainment complex," or up to $10 million in the case of a standalone casino only.
But the report also notes the findings of Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, who concluded in his own technical briefing, "that increasing access to gambling through any means (including a casino) is associated with an increase in the prevalence of problem gambling, which presently affects 0.2 per cent of the population."
In that light, the city staff report released suggests Toronto would be wise to locate any casino within its jurisdiction. "If a casino is located in the C1 zone but outside Toronto, as is possible through the OLG process, the city would have less ability to shape the development proposal and would not participate in any revenue sharing," the report states.
The C1 zone refers to possible locations in areas including the downtown waterfront, a western section including south-western parts of the city and south-eastern Mississauga, as well as areas along Highway 407 in Markham and Richmond Hill.
Since the head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Paul Godfrey and Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced plans last March to generate an additional $1.3 billion in annual revenue through the creation of a privately built gambling venue in the Toronto area, a number of casino resort companies have expressed interest in running the facility.
On its website, The Canadian Gaming Association claims 54 per cent of Toronto residents support the idea of a new casino in the city. It also claims a casino would create 12,000 permanent jobs in the city and millions in tourism revenue.
But opponents, including Councillor Adam Vaughan, counter that claims about its economic impact have been overblown at the same time as its potential pitfalls have been downplayed.