Ottawa city councillors voted in favour of open bidding on the construction of a new casino by a wide margin of 19-5.
Many members of the public as well as community advocates and organizations attended a meeting last week of the finance and economic development committee to express their concerns for a casino in Ottawa, but city councillors appeared to be behind the idea.
Most councillors said they believe there is no need for wait for a report on the casino's impact on health or other possible side effects.
"There's been a lot of talk about the need for a business plan to demonstrate that we need an expanded casino for Ottawa," said Coun. Stephen Blais, who represents the Cumberland ward.
"I agree, but that business plan is largely predicated on where it might go."
Gambling can't get worse, councillor says
Coun. Mark Taylor, who represents the Bay ward, said he doesn't believe a new casino would lead to more gambling addicts.
He believes the Rideau-Carleton Raceway and Casino du Lac Leamy already exist and all potential gamblers are using those facilities.
"I think it's a bit of a reach to say that this is going to push us over the cliff. I think we have to be responsible about it but I don't think it's the be-all and end-all," said Taylor.
If councillors approve the casino idea, the Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation would then issue a request for interest to private sector builders before presenting its choice — likely sometime in 2013 — for both the builder and the specific location.
A report from the Canadian Council of Policy Studies released earlier this week said a 'yes' vote Wednesday would mean Ottawa gets a casino, guaranteed.
Mike Patton, who ran against Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson in a previous provincial election, represents the group. He said a casino, which would likely be downtown, needs to be studied before this vote.
Patton also said councillors should be informed prior to making a "significant decision."