Province says no to full-scale Woodbine casino
Queen's Park shut down the city's tentative plan to allow a full-scale casino at Woodbine Racetrack Friday.
Mayor David Miller and several Toronto councillors were considering the move to help the city out of its financial crunch.
But they wanted a large share of the revenues from any roulette, craps or card games -- an idea the provincial government didn't support.
Queen's Park, which is responsible for granting gaming licences, had already announced a moratorium on mew gaming sites when the city discussed the idea.
Miller said Thursday he wouldn't have been interested in the endeavour unless most of the profit from the proposed gambling site went straight to the city.
"There is a (slots) casino now at Woodbine and ... if they want to expand, I'd look at it, but only if the money comes down to the city," Miller said.
"There's no point of us even looking at it if the money keeps going to the province because casinos have a lot of downsides as well."
The idea would have been an attempt to generate new revenue as the mayor looks for additional sources -- his proposal to raise $350 million through a land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee was deferred until after the October provincial election.
Toronto faces a potential $575 million budget shortfall next year. After the tax vote delay, Miller ordered spending within public service departments to be tightened and warned property tax increases could rise by up to 10 per cent next year.
The financial misery, however, shouldn't have been used as an excuse to try and bring a full-scale casino into the city, said Councillor Joe Mihevc.
"I don't like the aesthetics of a casino in Toronto. There are other places people can go -- Windsor, Niagara Falls and that -- let them go there," Mihevc said.
"I think there are a number of social ills that need to be looked at as well that come as a result of casinos."
Earlier this week council approved a $750 million development at Woodbine. The Rexdale facility will feature a skating rink and hotel, and it has more than enough room for a full casino.
About one-third of the Niagara casino's customers and half of Casino Rama's players come from the GTA, the Toronto Star reported.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming also owns two commercial casinos with private-sector partners, in Niagara Falls and Windsor.
Casinos and gambling facilities are a large source of revenue. A recent study said gambling contributes $15 billion to Canada's economy each year.
With a report from CTV's Desmond Brown