A request for two casinos in Ottawa has been rejected ahead of a debate on the issue today at the city's finance and economic development committee meeting.

The committee had been set to vote later Monday morning on whether to get behind Mayor Jim Watson's request.

The mayor had said he wants the city to keep existing slots at Rideau-Carleton Raceway while adding a second facility elsewhere.


Mayor Jim Watson's office says he asked the premier and finance minister to pressure OLG. (CBC)

Watson's office told CBC news he had asked Premier Kathleen Wynne and finance minister Charles Sousa to pressure OLG for a yes or no answer by today.

In a letter rejecting the request, Sousa wrote the model for one casino in Ottawa's zone was based on "extensive analytical modeling," and the proximity to other major gaming centres was a factor.

Substitute motion to be tabled at committee, mayor says

In a letter to councillors announcing Sousa's decision, Watson wrote he believes most councillors want to maintain slots at the Rideau-Carleton Raceway now that the province's stance has been clarified.

He wrote that council shouldn't delay its decision about a preferred location for a gambling site.

In response to Ottawa Public Health concerns about gambling addiction, the mayor wrote he'll be supporting its request "to OLG and the province to allocate $2 million on an annual, ongoing basis to the Champlain Local Health Integration Network, an increase from current funding of $741,000, to address the funding gap for community-based gambling treatment services in Ottawa."

Second time city asked for second facility

The city had originally been in favour of an open competition after the province announced it would be looking to expand casinos across the province.


Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who was at the committee meeting Monday, says he's been working on plans for a casino in Kanata for seven years. (CBC)

Watson and council then said in June they favoured the Rideau-Carleton Raceway as a location after an initial request for a second casino was turned down under former premier Dalton McGuinty and former OLG head Paul Godfrey.

After Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk threatened legal action and Philip Olsson was named the new head of the OLG, Watson said he would again ask the province for two casinos.

Melnyk has said he wants a facility near the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, while Clarence-Rockland have also said they’re interested.

He was on hand at Monday's committee meeting to hear the debate.

Meanwhile, the Ottawa Public Health Board voted eight to one against casino expansion last week.

Members said the city has to focus on helping the estimated 13,000 problem gamblers in the city and not add another facility.