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Toronto Casino Talk Heating Up


Published: April 17, 2012 3:55 pm ET

Last Comment: April 18, 2012 6:28 pm ET | 15 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Since the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. stated its interest in opening a full fledged casino in Canada's largest city, investors and the horse-racing industry continue to tout their value to Ontario's government.

An article by The Globe and Mail has explained that MGM Resorts International, the company behind The Mirage Bellagio, Luxor and the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas, has begun to lobby the Ontario Government to erect a casino in Toronto.

The report has quoted the company's senior vice-president, Alan Feldman, as saying that his company is not interested in a small project, and that it would "be prepared to invest an awful lot in the development of the concept.”

On Friday, April 13, Etobicoke Councillor Vince Crisanti was cited in a story by the Toronto Sun as saying that he supports the idea of expanded casino gaming at Woodbine Racetrack.

The Toronto Sun article cites Crisanti as conveying to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford via letter that Woodbine is a good location for expanded gaming in the GTA, and that his office "has received no complaints from residents regarding this site.”

The most recent announcement regarding expanded gaming has come from Woodbine's operator, the Woodbine Entertainment Group, which on Tuesday, April 17 announced via release that it recently commissioned a poll which has indicated public support for expanded gaming at the facility.

The telephone survey --- which was conducted by Environics Research Group between February 16 and 22, 2012 --- polled 500 City of Toronto residents aged 18 years and older. The survey asked the question: 'The media have suggested Ontario Place/Canadian National Exhibition as possible locations for a Toronto casino. Do you support the idea of a casino at...Ontario Place...Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)? Do you support the idea of a casino at Woodbine Racetrack?'

The poll results found that 51 per cent of Torontonians surveyed support the idea of a casino at Woodbine. (The margin of error for a sample of 500 is plus or minus 4.4, 19 times out of 20. The sample was weighted to reflect the actual population.)

According to the WEG release, the survey indicated that there is considerably more support for a casino at Woodbine than at other locations. The survey found that there is particular support for expansion (60 per cent) within Woodbine's local neighbourhood of Etobicoke.

In contrast, the survey found that the majority of Torontonians opposed a casino in the downtown area --- 62 per cent of Torontonians opposed a casino at Ontario Place (only 34 per cent are supportive) and 59 per cent opposed a casino at the Canadian National Exhibition (only 37 per cent are supportive).

"We were not surprised with the results indicating Woodbine as the preferred location for a Toronto casino, particularly by residents of Etobicoke, given our social, economic and safety record in the community," WEG President and CEO Nick Eaves said via release. "Woodbine Entertainment Group is recognized provincially, nationally and internationally as a premier racing operator. Our successful partnership with the OLG has made Woodbine the most profitable gaming site in Ontario, so expansion to a casino site would be both logical and easily facilitated."

(With files from The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun and WEG)

April 18, 2012 - 6:28 pmI guess we all now know why

Lynne Magee SAID...

I guess we all now know why Ontario Place was suddenly closed down and why the end of the slots revenue sharing agreement looms. With MGM and Caesars throwing their weight around (behind Mr. McGuinty's closed doors), it is obvious that there has been an on-going master plan to clear the path for these big casinos to move in without having to compete with the racinos. It's all so clear now. While we were all scratching our heads and wondering "why", when the racetrack slots have been consistently contributing over a billion annually to the government's coffers, were Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Duncan busy cutting a deal with these casino moguls to sell 60,000 jobs, to destroy a profitable agricultural industry, to take over 3 million out of the provincial economy, to attack, yet again, rural Ontario? Perhaps they underestimated the wrath of the horsepeople. They simply don't get that we are completely and steadfastly devoted to our industry and to our horses and that we are prepared to fight to keep it going. Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Duncan didn't plan on that and have stooped backroom tactics and deception in their effort to force their plan upon us. The people of Ontario did not want casinos and slot parlours in their cities and towns or on every street corner back in the 1990s and they appear to feel the same way about it now. The difference is, the government back then listened.

April 18, 2012 - 3:20 pmCasino company's take

Norm Brunet SAID...

Casino company's take upwards of 58% of the profits so once again you are looking at what sense does this make.

On the bright side there is a precedent in Illinois. The supreme court did rule that casino's in Illinois needed to give a share of proceeds to horse racing for infringing upon there territory. So whichever way this goes there is recourse through the courts however lenghty this could be.

April 18, 2012 - 1:54 pmI guess this government

Diane Lord SAID...

I guess this government would rather line the pockets of a big corporation that is an outsider to this province than help 60,000 plus ontarions. They have proven once again they are incapable of running a one float parade!!! The people of Ontario have spoken loud and clear but they are unwilling to listen. It's time for them to go! Robbie Robinson

April 18, 2012 - 8:46 amDoes Toronto/Ontario have

Cam McKnight SAID...

Does Toronto/Ontario have any idea who/what they are considering as partners?

One can only hope that the City and Province do some reasonable due dilligence when considering the proposals by the glitzy out of country casino companies.

How well is Caesars doing in Windsor? Losing money big time, in fact one of the reasons the government gave for closing the Windsor racetrack slots was because they have a negative impact on Caesars (Windsor raceway was a comparatively small slot operation to begin with).

What about the other much ballyhooed provincial partner, MGM? Has there been any discussion about the fact that their 50% partner in Macau (China) has links to organized crime? Or the fact that MGM is suing Illinois (where they run a Riverboat Casino) and New Jersey (Atlantic City casino), because they don't like the rules those states impose?

Woodbine has a proven track record with the Province/City. Not only have they been a responsible corporate citizen, but they already had approved expansion plans on the books. The province could have easily given them a gaming license for tables and avoided a lot of controversy. Then again reasonability hardly seems part of the Liberal playbook these days.

April 18, 2012 - 12:31 amI bet MGM won't even look

I bet MGM won't even look twice when they find out they only are getting 20 % of the take. Whoever they get should be aware of how Liberal governments treat their business partners and the Liberal's respect for agreements and contracts. Mr Duncan and Dalton have decided to sell out Ontario to the highest bidder.

April 17, 2012 - 8:40 pmThe problem here is the

Ian Dow SAID...

The problem here is the people of Ontario did speak when they voted for this bunch of liars, now the people of Ontario want rid of this bunch, unless the NDP grows some back bone quickly and defeats the budget we are screwed.

April 17, 2012 - 8:30 pmHow in the world can a

John Hill SAID...

How in the world can a politician put 60,000 jobs, producing 1.1 billon dollar revenue for the government, at risk to line the pockets of a few americans. It sounds like political suicide to me but yet it is happening. I have heard nothing from NDP lately concernining concessions for the slot agreement in the budget. I am afraid we may be collateral damage in all of this. Why can't they just build their casino in Toronto and leave us be.

April 17, 2012 - 8:13 pmThe plan is already in place

Tim Dean SAID...

The plan is already in place by the Liberals and the pieces are now just being played
I believe Slots at racetracks is long gone if the budget goes through....
A major corporation is in place MGM to build the mega casino.
But needed the promise of less gambling competion ..and the Liberals have made that move
Elimination of slots....the same has happened in New Jersy and mega casinos in Atlantic city.
We have the promise of the PC but not the NDP.....the Liberals will not and can not change at this point or MGM walks
I'm afraid our NDP will become liberals on the 24th.

April 17, 2012 - 7:11 pmToronto city councillor

Ian Dow SAID...

Toronto city councillor Giorgio Mammoliti was quoted in yesterdays paper "A Casino in Toronto could provide 10,000 jobs, especially for Single Moms"

Earth to Mammoliti, there are 60,000 jobs at stake in the horse racing industry, a hell of a lot of these jobs belong to Single Moms.

So a net loss off 50,000 jobs if this nonsense persist is OK according to him!

April 17, 2012 - 5:19 pmCheryl Bloomfield. Even if

Cheryl Bloomfield. Even if Woodbine were to get expanded gambling how is this helping horse racing? Some racetracks have already been told their slots are being removed with others to follow. How many smaller tracks will be able to survive? And WHY would WEG want to go back in business with the same people that are trying not only to put an end to the money making slots program but also to the end of racing for many people? Do they not think that this can't or won't happen again down the road with a casino? Has horse racing become secondary to a casino? Sound like it to me.

April 17, 2012 - 4:49 pmMaybe just maybe the 60,000

greg dustin SAID...

Maybe just maybe the 60,000 plus people who will be affected by this budget will back the NDP party with our own generosity allowing NDP party to also fight an election.

April 17, 2012 - 4:16 pmIf the OLG and Dalton

If the OLG and Dalton McGuinty stipulate that an MGM casino would make them 400 million a year which is less than a third of the revenue from the slots at racetrack program, you won't see MGM for dust as they leave town.

April 17, 2012 - 4:14 pmI guess this government

I guess this government would rather line the pockets of a big corporation that is an outsider to this province than help 60,000 plus ontarions. They have proven once again they are incapable of running a one float parade!!! The people of Ontario have spoken loud and clear but they are unwilling to listen. It's time for them to go! Robbie Robinson

April 17, 2012 - 4:02 pmI agree one hundred percent

brian hancox SAID...

I agree one hundred percent with Rob Macdonald. I do not believe for one minute that this idea to reduce Ontario racinos was done out of the blue. I believe most things presented by government today have a hidden agenda and that the agenda in this case is to cause yes I did say cause, a new election and to get that new election financed is a priority. Todays announcement proves to me where the money will come from to help the Liberal government fight that election.

April 17, 2012 - 4:01 pmMy guess is that MGM's

My guess is that MGM's "investment" in a Toronto Casino started with Premier McGuinty and Finance Minister Duncan.

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