The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association is urging Hamilton councillors to vote yes to a casino in Flamborough.
"It seems to us that Hamilton has struggled with this decision," said Sue Leslie, OHRIA president. "Flamboro [Downs] has done well with jobs for the community and horse racing. We see no reason for it to be anywhere else."
At a special casino meeting Thursday afternoon, committee will hear a motion from councillor Sam Merulla that states council's first choice for an expanded gaming facility is Flamboro Downs.
"It's Flamborough and that's it," Merulla said, of his motion.
Leslie wants her association members to attend the meeting to make sure their voices are heard.
"If the slots are moved to downtown, far more jobs would be lost in the rural region," she said.
Leslie said she is expecting a "soild turnout" from her association members, but Merulla is confident his motion will pass without question as long as it includes, in writing, a veto clause from OLG that would allow council to shut down any bidders that reject council's parameters.
That means any proposals could be accepted by the OLG, but council has the right to say 'no.'
"With the veto from OLG, councillors will be unanimously supportive," Merulla said.
But the OLG has a different idea.
"We've always said we'll go where the community wants us, but we want to go where the customers are, too," Tony Bitonti, a spokesperson for OLG, said. "If you look at Hamilton, that's where the customers are."
Bitonti said that at Thursday's meeting, council will be "voting on the opportunity" for a casino in Hamilton. That's only step one of three, he said.
OLG would then need to source qualified bidders, who would be "doing their homework" about Hamilton.
Bitonti said a final decision on an operator and location for a casino would be chosen by the OLG, the municipality and the private sector operator jointly.
"All three parties have an equal say in this," he said. "Hamilton has a lot of power in this ... they will get to determine the final location, but there will be a lot of back and forth."
The catch is that if Hamilton decides it will only accept a Flamborough location, that location also has to attract a bidder.
For just a slots facility, "people will come, but who knows how many," Bitonti said.
Merulla said he expects full support based on a motion from April 2012 when councillors voted unanimously in favor of the Flamborough site as its preferred casino location, but still kept to door open to explore other options.
The motion, if passed, will still need to be ratified at the next city council meeting.