Plans for a casino in downtown Toronto received its first negative vote.
The city’s Board of Health voted 9-1 against expanded gambling in Toronto. Commissioners overwhelming favored a motion offered by City Counselor Joe Mihevc that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation “should not be invited to expand gambling in the City of Toronto.”
The vote was based on “health risks associated with gambling,” that were described in a report drafted by medical officer of health Dr. David McKeown.
“This report leads to a very, very simple conclusion. And that is that we should not, as Torontonians, allow the expansion of gaming in our city,” Mihevc said at the board’s meeting Monday.
McKeown’s report suggests a casino anywhere in the Greater Toronto Area could lead to a rise in problem gaming.
The report also suggested such ideas as banning automated teller machines on the casino floor, slowing down the speed of play on slot machines, mandating a daily loss maximum and prohibiting alcohol service in the gaming areas as ways to combat problem gambling.
Caesars Entertainment Corp., MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Wynn Resorts Ltd. Have all expressed interest in placing a casino in Canada’s largest city.
Union Gaming Group managing director Bill Lerner told investors the vote was not a death knell for the casino.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is a proponent of a casino. However, Lerner speculated the public is split on the issue.
The Canadian Gaming Association rejected the report’s findings and the Ontario Lottery Commission has given Toronto until early 2013 to decide if it wants a casino. The commission has said it will consider other locations in the province for the casino.
“Press reports indicate that the city council is expected to vote in March,” Lerner said.