The future of the OLG proposed Toronto casino will be decided after a special city council meeting on May 21. Several councilors support the casino; others are vehemently opposed to the proposal, while the remaining undecided voters hold the balance of power.
The undecided councilors argue that a vote is illogical until all the information regarding the casino is on the table. In particular, councilors want a revenue sharing agreement with the OLG and the Ontario government that ensures Toronto receives a minimum of $100 million for hosting the casino. The government vetoed that request last month, and stated it is unfair to other Ontario communities for Toronto to receive a special revenue sharing agreement.
However, the OLG announced late in the day on May 3 that a new arrangement was put on the table that ensures Toronto receives $100 million annually as a casino host. The new arrangement would pay the city its hosting fee from straight from revenues made within the casino. The OLG made this amended policy public even as the Ontario government is still reviewing the proposal. A spokesperson from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office only stated that the government wants a fair revenue sharing arrangement for all Ontario municipalities.
Several councilors, who initially considered the $100 million figure the ‘magic number,’ are hinting that the OLG’s latest backroom deal may be too little, too late. Councilor Peter Milczyn, one of the undecided voters, agreed with anti-casino councilor Adam Vaughan that the revenue sharing arrangement will be made based on what Queen’s Park can afford. Milczyn is doubtful that a $100 million plus revenue arrangement is affordable in Ontario’s cash strapped economy.
“You obviously have to think seriously about what that $100 million could do for the city, not to say it would be a good idea to put a casino at Exhibition.”
There are 45 councilors at Toronto City Hall, and at least 23 must side with the yes or no casino sides to finalize the proposal one way or another.