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Old 01-13-2012, 12:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
jeffb
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Cool A Casino in Toronto?

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Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. is a key source of revenue for the province – in fiscal 2011, the agency contributed $1.9-billion to its coffers. But this proposal comes at a time of great economic uncertainty for Ontario. With the province in deficit, the government is under mounting pressure to find new sources of revenue and cut program spending.

Councillor Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s brother and closest adviser, said the administration would support a casino as long as the public is behind it.

“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 toward transit,” Mr. Ford said. “We need to build subways.”

It would ultimately be up to the provincial government to decide whether Toronto is ready for its first casino. Venues for blackjack and slot machines in major metropolitan regions have proven to be controversial and have prompted fears of gambling addiction and other social problems.

But casinos are attractive to governments because they generate revenue, create jobs and boost tourism.

“It’s not an easy decision,” said Michael Thompson, chair of Toronto’s economic development committee. “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.”

Sources said the timing for a new casino is ideal because governments often turn to gaming revenues during times of economic hardship. Ontario opened its first casinos during the recession in the early 1990s, when former NDP premier Bob Rae was in power.

Provincial sources say there have been discussions within the McGuinty government about how a casino in Toronto would help slay the deficit. A provincial government source said there has to be a casino in the city to help the government achieve its target of erasing the deficit by fiscal 2017-18.

But a government official said the province does not plan on making a decision until it receives a report from the lottery corporation, expected in March
Ontario mulls cashing in with a new Toronto casino - The Globe and Mail
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