OLG President Rod Phillips confirmed that Toronto will receive increased revenues from casino hosting fees compared to other Ontario communities if council approves the OLG casino proposal. The confirmation upset mayors and councilors of other casino cities, who are upset the OLG is showing favourtism to one community over others.
Phillips says the Toronto casino fee range between $50 million and $100 million was meant to encourage Toronto councilors to support the OLG casino proposal. Insiders associated with the OLG say other communities stand to collect approximately $20 million in casino hosting fees, and Phillips confirmed the OLG considers Toronto as a special exception.
“This is due to the broader economic benefits from that kind of private investment.”
Casino support groups and lobbyists support Phillips decision to give Toronto increased hosting fees and a greater share of the revenues. The private sector stands to invest approximately $2 to $3 billion in construction and infrastructure development from the proposed casino for Toronto, and insiders believe the world class entertainment centre will increase the range of tourists visiting the Ontario capital.
However, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati is upset that Phillips is favouring a city that has yet to confirm it will host a casino over cities that currently do include casinos in their local economies. Niagara is home to both the Fallsview Casino and Casino Niagara, and the community receives $3 million in hosting fees for its inclusion of the casinos. Diodati says if Toronto receives a greater share of revenue, Niagara should also benefit.
“We don’t think anyone should receive preferential treatment.”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s casino sub-committee was scheduled to vote on the casino this week, but an expected report analyzing the costs and benefits of the casino wasn’t submitted, which city staff has refused to explain. The councilors are evenly divided, and a few undecided councilors could hold the balance of power come voting day. However, several of these councilors including Ana Bailao, are leaning towards rejecting the casino due to the unexplained delay of reports. Bailao says she hopes Phillips isn’t pushing the casino fees to draw attention away from the report.