With Tuesday's unexpected vote by Toronto City Council that Woodbine Racetrack will not be allowed to undergo casino gaming expansion, the topic of casino expansion in the Greater Toronto Area now shifts to the raceway's neighbouring municipalities.
The possibility of the introduction of a full-fledged casino in either Brampton, Markham, Mississauga or Vaughan has been described as Woodbine's "greatest fear" and "greatest threat,” according to comments made earlier this month by Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO Nick Eaves.
Eaves made the comments during a May 6 discussion with the editorial board of the Toronto Star.
“Our greatest fear and our greatest threat, and frankly the city’s greatest threat, is that a casino will get built in Vaughan or Markham or Mississauga or Brampton or one of those municipalities,” Eaves said, adding that, “If that were to happen and Woodbine wasn’t able to expand (to a full casino), we’re...very fearful for what that would mean to our business.”
Both Eaves' and WEG's worse-case scenario unfortunately took a significant first step Tuesday when Toronto Council voted 24-20 in favour of a motion by Councillor Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) to oppose expanding the current gaming offerings at Woodbine Racetrack.
Reports from the fallout of the Toronto casino vote have helped shed some light as to where at least a couple of Woodbine Racetrack's competing municipalities currently stand when it comes to the casino expansion issue.
An article by the Toronto Sun has cited Regional Councillor Jim Jones as saying that his motion to determine whether Markham is interested in playing host to a casino will be debated by the end of May. In the report, Jones was quoted as saying, “Hopefully, at the end of the month we’ll set up the public (consultation) process."
It appears as though the City of Mississauga, directly to the west of Woodbine Racetrack, is currently not moving on the issue.
A report by 680 News has cited Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion as saying that her council has yet to even consider the idea of bringing a casino to the city. “We still have over 3,000 acres (of available land in Mississauga) — industrial/commercial — but we don’t own any of it," McCallion was quoted as saying. "And I have not had anybody come to me with saying ‘we want to build a casino’ and give us a hand.”
The other potential municipality in the mix, the City of Vaughan, located directly to the north of Woodbine, has yet to comment on the issue, according to a report by citynews.ca.
In addition to Eaves' official comments regarding Toronto Council's decision, Eaves made further comments to the Toronto Star. He discussed how the fate of Ontario's horse racing industry is at a "tipping point," and how "a number of different issues" could have affected Toronto Council's decision on expanded gaming at Woodbine.
“The downtown decision (to debate whether or not to introduce a casino to downtown Toronto), I recognize, was complicated," Eaves said, adding, "but one has to assume that there were a number of different issues playing a part in the city council deliberations today.”
Eaves went on to say, “People are not investing in horse racing. They are not breeding horses, they are not buying horses. They’re getting out of horse races. We’re getting crucially close to the tipping point of not being able to get the industry back.”
(With files from 680 News, citynews.ca, the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun)
I truly believe no one will
I truly believe no one will want a casino anywhere. Casinos are a drain on the economy. Action needs to happen fast to integrate horse racing into the gaming industry. I feel positive that things will get better and maybe even better than they were with the SARP.