Toronto Area Casino Opportunities Dwindling As More Doors Slam Shut

Posted on: October 23, 2013, 05:30h. 

Last updated on: October 23, 2013, 01:26h.

Apparently, Toronto and environs are less than excited about getting a swank casino resort like this Oxford rendering depicts.

O Toronto, Canada! You do not seem to cotton too much to the idea of a casino, do you?

Toronto and outlying areas have been earmarked and several developers have expressed interest in the area for creating a resort casino, but it seems that planners are running out of locations that might be willing to accept a casino in their neighborhood. The latest area to block a casino is Vaughan, which has now voted against the idea of building a casino there.

Vaughan Just Says No, Narrowly

The city of Vaughan rejected the casino plan in a 5-4 vote. Although the vote was very close, it echoed the results in other towns and cities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as two others have already rejected such an idea and the two remaining locations appear unlikely – or at least uncertain – to allow a casino within their city limits.

Vaughan joins Toronto and Markham City as having formally rejected casino deals. Toronto’s vote was the most infamous of all, as despite the support of Mayor Rob Ford, the city council rejected a downtown casino by a 40-4 vote. That ensured that the issue wouldn’t be coming up again in the near future. Markham’s vote was also one-sided, though by the less dramatic margin of 9-4.

Ontario Lottery Corp. Getting Less Than Warm Reception

All of these votes are related to a proposal from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., which is looking to expand its reach into the western GTA region. However, OLG is limited on where they can place such a venue, and many of the proposed locations have already rejected such proposals in the past, or are expected to show little interest in this round of casino expansion.

Of the two remaining locations that have yet to vote this time around, Richmond Hill is the more adamantly opposed of the two.

“We have no interest in hosting a casino,” said Mayor Dave Barrow. “We’ve never taken a vote to say yes or no, but when information came forward…we just received it and took no action.”

Barrow pointed out that in addition to there being little local interest in having a casino built there, there’s also very little land that could even be used for such a large facility.

“If we were to place it where most municipalities seem to be placing it, as far away from residential properties as we could, we would literally have to place it on Highway 7,” he noted.

On the other hand, Mississauga – the final city that’s on the list of proposed casino locations – has yet to make such a strong statement against having a casino in their borders. But that may be because the city of Mississauga has yet to be approached by the OLG or any developers this time around rather than because there’s growing support for a Las Vegas-style casino there. In the 1990s, Mississauga rejected a similar proposal.

“It sort of floats back up,” said long-time Mississauga Councilor Pat Saito. “Somebody comes forward and thinks it would be a great idea again. The GTA is a very attractive market for someone to come in and build a casino.”

And it’s likely that it will float back up again in the future. While the various rejections may make it unlikely for a casino to be built in the western GTA in the near future, that doesn’t mean that the idea will disappear forever.

“If we say no, formally, and Richmond Hill says no formally, it’s not going to be the end of it,” Saito said. “Somebody will come back and want to do it another time, maybe hoping that if there’s a change on council there’ll be a change in attitude.”