While the Toronto casino proposal was overwhelmingly rejected by city council last month, the debate could continue in the weeks or months ahead. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Councilor Doug Ford mentioned on their weekend radio show that they would reopen debate on expanded gambling at the Woodbine racetrack.
The OLG casino proposals for Toronto included two pre-designated gaming zones that could serve as hosts for gambling facilities. The downtown Toronto location was considered ‘the jewel in the crown’ of the OLG’s plans, but councilors voted overwhelmingly 40-4 against the proposal. The second gaming zone encompassed areas in the surrounding GTA community, which includes northern Etobicoke, home of the Woodbine racetrack.
The OLG proposed expanding the gambling floor at the racetrack to include table games such as blackjack and poker to support the slots. The opinions on gambling at Woodbine were more divisive as councilors voted 24-20 against expanding gambling services at the racetrack.
The Ford brothers were some of the most vocal supporters of both proposals, and Mayor Ford earlier hinted that he may put the casino on the 2014 electoral ballot. The brothers agreed to respect the decision on the downtown location, but suggested they would reopen the Woodbine debate. On their Sunday radio show, Mayor Ford stressed he could convince enough councilors to switch their votes.
“Hopefully, we can get all the people who voted against it to rethink it and give Woodbine a shot to have a full casino.”
The Woodbine debate could become more contentious this time around due to recent developments in the rest of the GTA. The city of Vaughan voted last month in favour of a casino in their community as part of a major cultural redevelopment project. If the OLG does find an operator to develop a facility in Vaughan, the facility could reduce demand for expanded gambling at nearby Woodbine. The concerns were raised by Woodbine CEO Nick Eaves, who said a Vaughan casino could “severely compromise” business at the racetrack.
The Fords didn’t provide a clear date as to when they would reopen the debate, but gaming analysts and online casino forums believe the brothers will move sooner rather than later.