OLG Expansion Meets More Opponents

Published: January 31, 2013 02:13 pm EST

As more companies come forward with visions of grandeur for a downtown Toronto casino, more individuals come forward against the current OLG modernization strategy.

On Thursday, real-estate owners Cadillac Fairview Corporation announced a 50/50 joint venture with MGM Resorts International to bid for, develop and operate a "destination-style, integrated resort complex" within the Greater Toronto Area.

Plans are for Cadillac Fairview and MGM to "jointly conceive a project that includes entertainment, gaming, hotel, retail and conference facilities. The joint venture will design, develop and construct the resort under one or more brands owned by MGM."

In what could be a conscious decision to soothe the anti-casino movement, the release does not formally refer to the gaming side as a "casino" but does refer to the gaming element as part of the package, with preliminary designs including a permanent Toronto Cirque Du Soleil experience as well as a partnership with noted Toronto restaurateur Mark McEwan to develop new dining concepts for the "integrated resort."

“Cadillac Fairview recognizes the enormous benefits that can accrue to the city of Toronto from an integrated resort and we’re proud to partner with MGM Resorts to develop this exciting project,” said John Sullivan, President and CEO of Cadillac Fairview. “The City of Toronto staff report has identified how such a project will create thousands of jobs, contribute much-needed revenue to the city and provide Toronto with an iconic landmark to attract millions of tourists.”

While the developers are touting the rewards, this announcement comes just after three former Toronto mayors issued a joint letter to Mayor Rob Ford urging the mayor and council not to knuckle under to pressure from casino moguls promising fortunes.

"We saw countless proposals that proponents said would bring the city big revenues, many jobs and much prestige," the joint letter from David Crombie, John Sewell and Art Eggleton stated. "Beware the sales pitch. The numbers don't always add up."

The letter concluded with the following: "Governments shouldn't be expanding gambling opportunities as a means of balancing their budgets. A commercial casino operation is not in Toronto's best interest."

On Thursday, Ontario PC Critic for Economic Development and Innovation Monte McNaughton hosted the first in a series of community consultations regarding the next steps in the PC plan for gambling in Ontario.

“With Ontario staring at a $30 billion deficit, and a $411 billion debt, it’s time for a new attitude towards government in Ontario,” said McNaughton. “The Ontario PCs have laid out our vision for refocusing government, now we want to hear from members of the community, business leaders and those in the gaming sector on what would be the best way to implement this vision going forward."

McNaughton referred to the PC Party's Paths To Prosperity White Paper, which includes the following quote on gaming expansion in Ontario:

"We should move to wind down the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, getting government out of the gambling business. Government would become the tough regulator, not the operator trying to bully communities into accepting new casinos. The government should also end its foolish expansion into online gaming."