Article published on 18 January 2012

Ontario Government Receptive to Toronto Casino Idea

OLGC Pushing for Casino in Toronto
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A number of factors have contributed to the Ontario government opening up more to the idea of constructing a new casino in Toronto, Ontario.

The Finance Minister for the province, Dwight Duncan said that the Ontario government was receptive to the Toronto casino as it may act as a new source of revenue for the province.

A year ago the government asked that the Ontario Lottery and Gambling Corporation (OLGC) to review its operations, with the objective of earning higher dividends from the corporation.

In 2011, the OLGC contributed nearly $2 billion to the province.

This week, Minister Duncan said that the government wanted to "maximize profits, and we haven't necessarily been doing that.

"Obviously, we wouldn't move on something like that without the city itself wanting it," he noted.

The Mayor of Toronto is said to be supportive of the idea of constructing a casino in downtown Toronto, as long as the public backed the idea as well.

"If it would create jobs and bring tourists, the answer is yes, and if we could get a piece of the pie it would go towards transit," said Mayor Rob Ford's brother and adviser, Councillor Doug Ford.  "We need to build subways."

Toronto Casino Generates Mixed Feelings

Giving the green light for the construction of a casino is never an easy feat, especially when it is planned to be in proximity of the city center. Opponents always fear that easy access to a gambling establishment which offers blackjack and slots could lead to gambling addiction.

On the other hand, casinos are a good source of income and allow provinces to earn money through taxes and revenues. A council-endorsed report from 2011 showed that a casino would be a good way to generate revenue without raising taxes and would increase tourism to the area. The money earned could be invested in infrastructure and social services.

The Chair of Toronto's economic development committee, Michael Thompson, admitted that it wasn't an easy decision.

"If done properly, it could certainly be an opportunity to create economic prosperity, but it also can create some economic despair as well, and I don't know how you balance that," he said.

The government said it would not make a decision regarding the Toronto casino until it read the OLG's review on gaming revenues in the province, which is due in March.

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