The next step in securing a casino in Toronto has been taken. A report commissioned by City of Toronto staff was released today, touting many of the economic benefits that will result from hosting a casino. Councilors in favour of the casino have said economic benefits are crucial for their support in a vote expected in the New Year.
The OLG announced earlier this year that privatized casinos will be developed starting next year. Since this announcement, the potential for a casino in downtown Toronto has been one of the most discussed and controversial. OLG chairman Paul Godfrey, with support from Premier Dalton McGuinty, has insisted a casino in Toronto is best for all of Ontario but will not force the issue if council votes against it. However, with McGuinty’s recent resignation as Premier, questions are emerging about the entire future of the casino proposal.
The Toronto report suggests potential for approximately 4,000 to 7,000 net new jobs for the city if an “integrated entertainment complex” is built in addition to a casino. Investment groups have been creating designs that include a casino in some cases, such as Oxford Properties Group, insisting only with a casino would their investments occur. There will also be revenue from the sale of the land to a casino operator, and millions of dollars per year in hosting fees for the city.
The report also suggests that a casino established in another portion of the GTA would cost Toronto the economic benefits that could result from it.
“If a casino is located in either of these zones but outside Toronto, the city would have less ability to shape the development proposal and would not participate in any revenue sharing.”
The report also considers the social and mental health impacts a casino would create. It makes specific mention of Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s medical health officer, warning that some residents of the city could become problem gamblers because of a casino.
“Increased access to gambling through any means is associated with an increase in the prevalence of problem gambling.”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his executive committee will discuss the report’s findings beginning Friday November 2.