Article published on 28 August 2013

Ottawa Casino Bid Rejected by Ontario Gov

Ottawa to Retain a Single Casino Zone
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The City of Ottawa had hoped that it would be given permission to have two full casinos, however, the Ottawa casino bid was rejected by the government of Ontario.

This is the second time that Mayor Jim Watson and the city council have requested zoning for two casinos in Ottawa. Although the request for a second casino in the city was turned down, Mayor Watson decided he would try again.

The original request was made when Paul Godfrey was head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Dalton McGuinty was the premier. The leadership has changed, with Philip Olsson the current head of the OLG, and Kathleen Wynne is now the premier.

After Eugene Melnyk, the Ottawa Senators owner, once again requested permission for a second casino, Mayor Watson said that he would once again request permission to open a second casino in Ottawa.

Charles Sousa, the finance minister, wrote a letter rejecting the request to open a second casino in Ottawa. He explained that the reason that there is a model for only one casino in Ottawa is in part because it is close to other main gaming facilities. He explained that this decision was made based on "extensive analytical modeling."

Ottawa Casino Bid and Rideau-Carleton Raceway

The current gaming venue in Ottawa is located at the Rideau-Carleton Raceway. Since the Ontario government rejected the proposal, Mayor Watson has noted that in June, when the earlier request for two gaming centres was turned down, the council had supported keeping the gaming location at the Rideau-Carleton Raceway.

Melnyk still feels he should be given permission to build a complex that includes a casino, sports, entertainment, and retail offering. He reminded officials that the Ottawa Senators lose around ten million dollars a year, and that this casino complex development would help to offset this loss.

Melnyk warned: "The team has already gone bankrupt once." The Ottawa Senators owner has said that he is consulting with his lawyer, and is considering legal action, since the current decision shows that the city is sole-sourcing.

Problem Gambling Help in Ottawa

Some of the objections to the zoning for a second casino in Ottawa have come from the Ottawa Public Health Board, which voted eight votes to one against adding another gambling facility in the city.

The Health Board has said that before opening another gambling facility, there needs to be a greater focus on those who already have gambling problems, estimating the number of problem gamblers in Ottawa at about 13,000.

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