Ottawa Casino Expansion Debate Grows Prior To Council Vote

Published: October 9, 2012 12:13 pm EDT

In the wake of Kingston City Council voting against allowing casino expansion into its downtown core, Ottawa City Council, which has a similar vote scheduled for Wednesday, October 10, is now under more pressure to examine the issue more thoroughly before making a hasty decision.

News of Kingston Council's vote on the issue flew well under the radar last week. A report by The Kingstonist explains that on October 2 Kingston Council voted 7-5 in favour of telling the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. that the municipality is a willing host community for casino expansion, but on the condition that the expansion is not located downtown.

The position of the Kingston Council is similar to that of Hamilton City Council, which has consistently gone on the record as saying that it is interested in casino expansion within its borders, but that it overwhelmingly prefers that Flamboro Downs, which has housed horse racing and successful slot-machine gaming for years, be the preferred location for any gaming expansion.

While many other jurisdictions have flat out told the OLG that they are not interested in being a host municipality for a casino whatsoever, one city that is currently pondering the issue is Ottawa. The city has found itself in a position much like that of Hamilton, which is currently not allowing the OLG to barge right in and call all of the shots outright.

It was just last week when an Ottawa City Council committee made the recommendation that Ottawa declare itself a willing host municipality for casino expansion. The issue will be again pressed tomorrow (Wednesday, October 10), when Ottawa's full Council is scheduled to vote on the issue.

The topic of casino expansion has become a hot-button local issue in the nation's capital and has prompted multiple 'pro' and 'con' positions to be heard on the subject. Many are for urban expansion, while many are also for keeping expanded gaming at Rideau Carleton Raceway, and therefore out of urban centres. Many are just simply against casino expansion, period.

With the issue clearly in the forefront and time ticking down to decisions on the matter, the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies is the most recent body to chime in with its position on the topic.

As a report by CTV News explains, CCPS Director of Provincial Affairs Mike Patton is asking Ottawa City Council to rebuff the OLG's pressurized timelines on the important choice and make a proper, calculated decision once all the information on the subject is on the table.

“The argument right now is that a casino downtown (in Ottawa) would generate considerable more revenue than Rideau Carleton Raceway. Nobody knows that. That’s people’s opinion," CTV News has quoted Patton as saying. "Let’s do a proper business case and see if in fact it would generate more income.”

Patton went on to say, “Council will be deciding on where and if there should be a casino prior to getting the full information from city staff,” and that his organization is urging Ottawa Council to "get the report first, that’s good public policy. Then make a decision based on the report."

Also, the OLG and the reigning Ontario Liberal Government have announced that they will not support municipal referendums to definitively gauge public sentiment on casino expansion. The gaming corporation and minority government are trumpeting relatively small telephone and online polls to echo entire municipal sentiment regarding clearly debatable issues.

In that vein, a poll on the website of 580 CFRA News Talk Radio is asking respondents whether or not Ottawa should declare its urban core 'off limits' to casino expansion, a la Kingston. At the time of this article's publishing, the poll had just under 900 votes, two thirds of which are against casino expansion in Ottawa's downtown core.

(With files from The Kingstonist, CTV News and 580 CFRA News Talk Radio)



Casino Rama has the busiest restaurants in the Orillia area. Why pay to eat when you get comps or discounted meals? Also interesting to note that Orillia has 6 pawn shops in a town of 24,000. One of the pawn shops called The Hock Shop has two franchises in that small town.

I sent an email to the councillors of Ottawa with those tidbits. I also mentioned that they didnt need to make a decision tomorrow because Ottawa is a prime target. I told them that they are better off conducting a referendum and actually knowing the terms of the deal, who is going to run the Casino and exactly where it was going.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

Any casino that is being built in any downtown area, would kill the economy of that city area. Again, the most logical place for a casino is at a racetrack. I don't think tourist would come to visit Ontario just to visit their Casino's. Loto Quebec opened a Casino up in Mont Tremblant to attract tourists,.that idea didn't work out too well. Ontario is not LasVegas. Casino/Racetrack is the best solution for the gamimg industry. Work together.

We know Rideau Carleton Raceway is successful. What if the city of Ottawa builds this monument to gambling and it starts costing mega bucks. Who is on the hook for the costs? Look at Windsor and Niagara Falls . What is the cost to the taxpayers as these people do not make enough money compared to the costs, if the truth were known. Just a thought. Bruce T. Winning.

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