A city committee is set to meet to decide whether Ottawa should direct the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to pursue a new casino.

IN DEPTH | In a non-scientific CBC Ottawa poll Monday, you voted 274-151 against the idea of opening of a new casino in Ottawa. That adds up to 64 per cent against and 36 per cent in favour.

The finance and economic development committee will hold a meeting later Tuesday with various stakeholders to consider the impact of adding a casino.

Delegations will begin at 5 p.m. at city hall.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has publicly supported the idea of a new casino due to what he believes is a sure-fire economic boost.

Dave Donaldson, chairman of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, agrees any type of gaming centre would help the city.

He said he believes there are four viable options for a new Ottawa casino:

  • Downtown.
  • Near the MacDonald-Cartier International Airport.
  • Near Scotiabank Place.
  • At the current Rideau-Carleton Raceway.

Donaldson also said studies have not been completed on the impact of a casino in any of those areas. Those studies are likely to be undertaken by city staff.


Dave Donaldson says there will be a great economic boost to whatever businesses surround a new gaming centre. (CBC)

The areas of discussion at the meeting will be on the economic development, the rural implications, the legal implications, risk management implications, financial implications, accessibility impact, technology implications and health implications of a new casino in Ottawa.

Public transportation access key

Donaldson said he believes no matter where a casino is built, if it is indeed built, there has to be public transportation access close by.

Alex Lawryk, spokesman for Rideau-Carleton, said the idea of a downtown casino or any competing casino is tough to take.

The raceway recently received approval for new gaming slots, which would challenge the Casino du Lac Leamy in Gatineau, but the province then shut down its "slots at the racetrack" program.


Alex Lawryk says the raceway has been hit hard by recent changes to gambling in Ontario, but it will put a bid in if a new casino is approved for Ottawa. (CBC)

Lawryk argued a downtown casino might seem like a magnet for economic spinoffs, but that is not always the case.

"You just have to look at Niagara Falls and Windsor to see what happens with a major casino," he said. "You have a lot of businesses boarded up in Windsor and the revitalization of Niagara Falls never did occur as expected.

Mayor Watson did say he wants the raceway to be considered as part of any bid for a new casino site. Area councillor, Doug Thompson, has been spearheading that campaign, as well.

Lawryk confirmed the raceway would be heavily involved in the bidding process.

The finance and economic development committee is also meeting Tuesday morning to discuss new developments in the Lansdowne Park plan.