Ottawa Council Debating Merits of New Casino

 Ottawa city council is debating today before a vote to officially approve the bidding for a new casino in the city.  There has been strong support both for and against the idea of a casino ever since Mayor Jim Watson proposed the idea to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).  Last week a special Finance and Economic Development committee voted in favour of formally requesting a list of potential operators from the OLG.  However, city council must vote to approve that motion before it is made official.


The Ottawa-based Canadian Council of Policy Studies released a report earlier this week outlining their request city councilors have a complete rundown of the costs and benefits of a casino before voting on the motion.  But most councilors appear to be unconcerned with needing to wait for a fully documented report as the motion is expected to pass following the debate.
Cumberland Ward Councilor Stephen Blais is one of the councilors expected to vote in favour of the request to send OLG.  He says that while a detailed cost-benefit analysis is important to have, it’s not something that’s needed when voting strictly on approval to meet with potential operators.
There have also been calls for concern that a new casino may increase problem gambling and be a socio-economic strain on the city.  Bay Ward Councilor Mark Taylor says the Rideau Carlton Raceway and nearby Casino du lac Leamy already draw in the people who choose to gamble and a new casino is unlikely to convince those who don’t to suddenly start.
If approval is granted as expected, the OLG will begin its search for potential private operators of the casino.  The OLG will then determine which operator it most recommends and the potential site of the casino that is most appealing for development.  The Rideau Carlton Raceway is expected to be one of the top locations in line as the sight for a casino.
Both the OLG’s recommendations must then be submitted to Ottawa city council before any final decision can be implemented.  The OLG’s decisions are expected sometime in 2013.

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