Ontario’s gambling modernization strategy took another blow in a surprise vote from Vaughan city council. Deputy Mayor Gino Rosati voted in favour of the OLG casino in May, but swung to the opposing side in a follow-up vote this week, effectively killing the motion for a casino in Vaughan.
Rosati was the sole swing vote on city council, who acknowledged that his changed position was due primarily to public backlash against the casino from citizens in his ward. He stated that many of the concerns from his constituents were similar to objections raised during the debate surrounding the Toronto casino, which was overwhelmingly defeated in a council vote earlier this year.
The Vaughan casino vote was tabled following a council meeting yesterday afternoon where nearly two dozen members of the community voiced their concerns about the proposal. Supporters of the casino envisioned the project would become part of a $1.2 billion infrastructure investment in the community, though those plans are now expected to change.
The councilors against the casino questioned the OLG’s revenue projections, which Toronto councilors also believed were overblown. Following the vote one councilor stated she did not want to see Vaughan became “another Atlantic City.”
Rosati stated he was relieved following the vote as the residents he represented were not going to let up in their opposition to the casino.
“The public doesn’t have to get any more petitions signed and all their other tiring work. We can go on with the business of the city.”
The decision in Vaughan leaves the OLG without a partner for a casino in the GTA, which was identified as the heart of the organization’s gambling modernization strategy 19 months ago. Both Toronto and Markham voted against a casino in their communities, while councilors in Mississauga and Richmond Hill both expressed their disinterest in casino debates.