January 29, 2013
It's looking optimistic, but cast of characters stand in way of hometown billions
Toronto’s my adopted hometown. I’ve lived here off and on since I came to the University of Toronto for law school in 1993. Toronto has a lot going for it: great restaurants for a city of its size, wonderful family activities and amenities available, and mostly a clean and highly liveable place. It also has horrible traffic and transit and decaying infrastructure. It’s not Chicago or New York City, which really bothers Canadians in general and Torontonians in particular, but all in all, it’s a wonderful place to live.
One thing that Toronto doesn’t have is a casino. We have Woodbine Racetrack out in Etobicoke, which has some slots, we have gaming during the CNE in late summer, and we have a thriving underground poker scene. The casinos in Niagara Falls and Rama aren’t too far. Internet gaming is everywhere, and heavily advertised. But Toronto doesn’t have a full-fledged resort casino like those in Vegas, or even like the casion property in Montreal.
I think odds are good that that will soon change. It’s by no means a certainty, but the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG — the provincial lottery monopoly) wants to develop a casino in downtown Toronto. This is a creating a big and growing debate here. In spite of the attention being generated by the ‘no’ side, I don’t think that Toronto will pass on the economic benefits that a casino property in the city stands to generate, nor do I think that it should pass on it.