Toronto casino odds slim after premier's edict, councillors say

The odds of a casino coming to Toronto appear to have fallen to longshot status now that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has ruled the city won't get a sweeter deal than casinos in other parts of the province.

Kathleen Wynne's ruling that city not get sweeter deal may deter council approval

A casino in Toronto may be a longshot prospect now that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has said the city won’t get a sweeter deal than casinos in other parts of the province.

Three Toronto councillors addressed the issue on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Thursday. All said it appears that Wynne’s edict means all bets are off when it comes to earning their support for bringing a Las Vegas style casino to Canada’s largest city.

Some council members want the city to see a share of annual revenue in the $100-million range, which is unlikely under the current funding formula.

With the province unwilling to sweeten the pot for Toronto, some council members say they are now leaning toward voting against the casino plan.

Is province's ruling a deal breaker?

Councillors Josh Colle, Karen Stintz and Ana Bailao all said Thursday that Wynne’s edict could be a deal-breaker.

"It makes me wonder at this point, what’s the province’s plan now? It feels like [the province] is baiting us to say no," said Colle. "I’m almost wondering if this is their passive-aggressive way of trying to getting us to not support it."

While Colle did not state a specific number that would result in his support, he said it has to be well above the $20-million range.

"It’s strange that for the bulk of this debate we’ve been told that Toronto is special and if we were to consider a downtown casino … The quantity of the dollars we would receive would match that unique opportunity. Now we’re being told the opposite."

Coun. Ana Bailao, whose ward includes one of the casino’s proposed locations at Exhibition Place, said Toronto will need a higher share of casino revenue to cover the extra infrastructure the project would require.

"If we don’t have the money it might be a net negative, instead of a net positive," she said.

Coun. Stintz also said the pro-casino lobby has so far failed to demonstrate the casino will deliver a windfall for the city that outweighs its potential negative effects.

"At this point right now, I can’t see what the benefit is. Unless something significantly changes," she said.

The city has delayed a staff report on the economic impact of casinos in the city. The report is expected later this spring.