The OLG has made the proposed Toronto casino the cornerstone of its gaming modernization strategy – a proposal that has proven very controversial across the GTA. Casino lobbyists have argued the potential economic benefits are worth the investment, while opponents counter that the impact on low-income families and social health groups outweighs the economic potential. OLG chairman Paul Godfrey has been the central proponent of the casino, but made a controversial statement that could damage his credibility on the file.
Godfrey has made several speeches advocating the OLG plan, but made a controversial remark at the National Club in Toronto earlier this week, which opponents to the casino say supports their cause. Godfrey suggested he wouldn’t want the casino in his neighbourhood, but downtown is an optimal location because it isn’t considered a residential area. He later attempted to clarify his remarks by suggesting the statement was taken out of context.
“I wouldn’t put a sports stadium like the ACC in the middle of homes in Swansea or strike up a skyscraping hotel on the Danforth. But those things fit well in a vibrant downtown and are accepted by the people that choose to live there. We at OLG believe the same can be said of a major gaming entertainment centre.”
However, opponents quickly jumped on Godfrey’s statement – with Toronto city councilor Adam Vaughan, an adamant casino opponent, suggesting Godfrey and the OLG have little consideration for the thousands of Torontonians who do live in the downtown core. Vaughan believes Godfrey’s remarks prove the hypocrisy of the OLG, and demands Toronto be removed from any OLG casino plans.
“Either apologize for making such a stupid comment, or stand by the statement and strike downtown Toronto from the sites being considered for a casino.”
Godfrey’s controversial remarks were made a day prior to the first town hall style meeting with the Toronto community for feedback on the casino. City council has said public opinion will greatly influence their vote to support or reject the casino, and casino opponents see the meetings as a prime opportunity to unite the community against the casino – using Godfrey’s own comments as fuel for the fire.
The OLG has said Mississauga, Vaughan, and Markham are also being considered as locations for the GTA casino – how Godfrey’s remarks could obstruct those plans is yet to be determined.