RCR Casino Motion Passes Committee

Published: July 10, 2013 12:24 pm EDT

On Tuesday, July 9 in Ottawa, the city's Finance and Economic Development Committee voted in favour of a motion brought forth by Mayor Jim Watson that calls for the Rideau Carleton Raceway to be the only acceptable location for casino expansion in the area. Ottawa Senators and thoroughbred racehorse owner Eugene Melnyk was in attendance at the meeting and aired his frustration regarding the process.

A report by metronews.ca explains that members of the committee voted 10-1 in favour of Mayor Watson's motion. The motion still has to be voted on by city council.

Melnyk has been against the course of action Mayor Watson has taken in recent weeks regarding the Ottawa-area casino issue. Mayor Watson had initially been a proponent of bringing both a casino to downtown Ottawa and a 'satellite' casino to the Rideau Carleton Raceway. When Mayor Watson learned that gaming wouldn't be expanded at RCR if a casino came to downtown Ottawa, he took the downtown option off the table and left the raceway as the only option, as per his motion.

Word of Mayor Watson's new position on the casino issue has not sat well with Melnyk. The Ottawa Senators owner has publicly voiced his displeasure with the situation in the weeks since the announcement of Mayor Watson's motion. Melnyk has said that he and his group have been working on a plan to bring a casino to the lands which house Scotiabank Place, the site of the Senators' home games, for seven years. He has spoken out against what he calls Mayor Watson's 'sole-sourcing' on the casino issue.

Melnyk had recently stated that he was moving on from his Ottawa gaming ambitions, although it has been reported that a lawyer representing Capital Sports and Entertainment --- the Ottawa Senators' ownership group --- has stated that the partnership could take the City of Ottawa to court over the casino-expansion issue. Melnyk had previously stated that he would have to re-examine his business interests in Ottawa if he could not land a casino.

A video by The Ottawa Citizen (which appears below) contains footage from a media scrum Melnyk held with reporters on Tuesday prior to the committee passing Mayor Watson's RCR motion.

(With files from the CBC, metronews.ca and The Ottawa Citizen)



Will, I greatly respect your opinions in general, but you're wrong on this one.

Like a previous poster said, there is no room to put a casino downtown without extreme expense to the developer.

Ottawa's south end is developing quickly, and you can be at RCR from downtown in 20-25 mins during non-peak traffic times. The site is less then 10 mins from the airport and the area has plenty of golf courses, restaurants, shopping, movie theaters etc.. within a 10 min drive. There is lots of space left and more opportunities to expand as oppose to downtown.

Now, if we're talking about the whole process of how this played out with city council, then that's a different story. To be honest, I'm a bit torn. As a standardbred owner, I know a casino/resort could be the salvation of the current racetrack (although none mine race there). As a logical person, I also know that Mr Melnyk's proposal should be given it's due process. As for the veiled threats about the future of the Sens, that's just more Melnyk dramatics. I'm still waiting for the results of the "private investigation" into the Karlsson injury.

When I moved here last spring, RCR was running 4 days a week. Now they only run on Sundays. I honestly don't know how any of these guys are surviving right now off that purse money....something has to give. One way or another, this casino decision will decide the fate of RCR

Something has to give.

Will ;
Is there anything you don't have the definitive answere to . I try to respect an individuals opinion , but really , your insight just never seems to end . When was the last time you visited Rideau Carlton . I'm betting you never have . Horsemen are in a fight for their lives right now but you seem to beleive that a guy that likely never did anything in the industry save for walking to the the mutuals with his $2.00 in his hand has all the answeres . Enough is enough.

Kudos to Mr. Watson for having the courage and insight to stand up to the OLG and greedy and rich and do what is right and best for the vast majority of the people in his community...if we could only have more like him!

In reply to by Will Yamakva

"If I don't get a casino then I may move my hockey team". Money and greed sure does erase ones memory since this is coming from a former owner (Melynk) of standardbreds at the old Barrie track, back in the day.

Its about as low as you can get for one who knows that if Rideau doesnt get some form of revenue stream, the business he was once involved in, where he knows how hard people work to try and make ends meet, will no longer be viable. Does he care, no, he only cares about himself and the allmighty dollar.

In reply to by Will Yamakva

Going head to head with Lac Leamy would be futile. RCR is close to the airport and new convention centre. There is plenty of room to expand. Shopping, accommodations and live entertainment can and likely will be part of the new facility.

We in Ontario have something unique to offer - live horse racing -this should be embraced and used to our mutual advantage.

There are plenty of cross promotion opportunities to be had if both entities work together. I never agreed with how OLG and racing were so completely cut off from one another. We can blame OLG or the racetracks but we as horsemen should have been lobbying for change.

Had a joint marketing effort been made with SARP, perhaps we could have grown our product rather then simply rely on the slot % to carry us.

I hope that our Industry leaders look for this type of partnership this time around. OLG, operators and horseman must all be on the same page working as a team on this.

I am grateful our city recognized the importance of our Industry and stood up to Goliath. This fight is not over as Mr Melnyk seems quite determined to have an opportunity at his own casino.

In reply to by Will Yamakva

Fact is there is no land available downtown to build a casino. Ottawa is bordered to the north by the Ottawa river and on the other side is Quebec. RCR gets on average 5 to 6000 customers per day. The big question is will there be horse racing left or will it be just a casino ?

If the Senators worked harder on their own product, they wouldn't require other revenue streams to stay afloat. Heck we've been told this for several years now Eugene - sounds like we are all in the same boat! Build us a track in Kanata and we'll split the casino take 50/50.

My heart bleeds for the plight of his NHL franchise!

I think the flow of dough is top heavy enough in our society. I do appreciate all that the wealthy have to offer - jobs(when things are going good), community service (as long as the cameras are rolling), investing in Canada (some do to some extent, others shelter/hide/conceal their wealth out of country).

This victory, if it is achieved will benefit the hard working middle class of our society - the ones that churn our economy (spend their disposable income on "stuff", volunteer, pay their taxes and contribute to an RRSP.

Yes, very generalized comments, yet I feel they land on the dartboard somewhere.

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