Caesars Entertainment targets downtown Toronto for an 'urban casino'

Caesars Entertainment Corp. wants to build a casino and entertainment complex in downtown Toronto, company officials told city leaders last week.

The casino operator has targeted the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in downtown as the location for an “urban casino,” Caesars Executive Vice President of Communications and Government Relations Jan Jones told Canada’s National Post.

Jones said the location along Front Street was superior to a site chosen by gaming rival MGM Resorts International, which wants to put hotel-casino complex in Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

The companies stepped up their lobbying efforts last week. Toronto and the province of Ontario are considering options for a single casino development in Canada’s largest city.

Other companies interested in Toronto include Las Vegas Sands Corp. and two Canadian casino developers, Woodbine Entertainment and Onex Corp.

A Toronto casino is still not a sure thing.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation said in March it would not put a casino in a city that does not want one. A public forum on the idea will be held in Toronto next month. A report is expected in November outlining the pros and cons of a casino development.

MGM Resorts sweetened the deal last week, telling Toronto leaders its development would include a location for a Cirque du Soleil theater. The entertainment troupe is headquartered in Montreal.

Jones said Caesars preferred the downtown site, “because of the way the resort would integrate with the rest of downtown and the other local businesses.”

Jones crossed paths with Alan Feldman, senior vice president of public affairs for MGM Resorts, at Toronto City Hall last week.

Both companies said the casino would represent no more than 10 percent of the integrated resort. The rest of the destination would be dedicated to hotel rooms, convention space, entertainment venues, shopping and dining destinations.