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OLG Toronto/GTA casino proposal (where to put it?)


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Feb 4, 2008
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It appears that Toronto will be getting a Casino in the near future, where should it be located?

My choice is the Portlands because no one else has any interest in developing them because the location is polluted and isolated from the rest of the City.

Where better for a giant attraction that doesn't need or want a connection with the rest of town. It would draw corollary investment in Hotels and Restaurants to serve the gamblers.

No transit improvements would be needed beyond the existing services, Gamblers don't take the TTC bus to a casino, they drive or take cabs and Tour coaches.

What's not to love.
I don't think it is a bad idea.
Transportation is a no worry as casinos are more than likely to offer free shuttle buses from various subway stations.
If the casino is intended to be one of OLG's "Resort Casinos" that attract tourists, then it most definitely should have good transit to the rest of the city, to multiply its economic impact.

However, be aware that the Resort Casinos (e.g., Fallsview) have actually lost money for the OLG in recent years. They are hardly an economic panacea.
What's not to love.

The social implications? The crime? The near-daily suicides? The lack of economic impact? The banality of such a development?

Richard Florida wrote a great article just the other day in the Star:
“Toronto deserves a world-class casino,” city councillor and one-time mayoral hopeful Giorgio Mammoliti declared recently.

Why? What did the good city of Toronto do to deserve such a costly, socially destructive boondoggle? Why would we allow as important a piece of waterfront property as Ontario Place to be turned into a gambling den — with all the glitz, tackiness, misery and crime that goes along with it?

There are lots of things that economic development experts disagree about — whether it’s more important to create a better business climate with tax abatements or attract new residents with quality-of-life amenities; whether mass transit and bike trails or highways and stadiums deserve bigger subsidies.

But about one thing, urbanists across the ideological spectrum are unanimous. And that is that building casinos, especially in an already thriving downtown, is a truly terrible idea.

It’s true that a host of major cities in the U.S. and around the world — New York, Miami, Chicago, Madrid, Seoul, Dublin, the list goes on — are planning or building equally or even more lavish casinos than the one that has been envisioned for Toronto.

And, yes, Toronto and the province are desperate for revenue. And true, gambling can generate a lot of cash.

But if gamblers fool themselves into thinking that they can get something for nothing, cities and governments should know better. When all the social, moral and monetary costs are totted up, legalized gambling has proven itself to be financial and economic disaster.

Just look at Atlantic City, decades after its casino hotels were supposed to have changed its fortunes. Detroit’s three casinos have hardly moved its economic needle. For that matter, look at Niagara Falls, nearby.

And don’t invoke Las Vegas, which is the one place legalized gambling works — because it is part of a much bigger entertainment and lifestyle picture, offering great restaurants, great shopping, great weather and great shows (Canada’s own remarkable Cirque du Soleil currently has seven productions running in Las Vegas). Not to mention the fact that it is the world’s largest centre for massive business conferences like the giant Consumer Electronics Association show and the International Auto Show. For all that, Las Vegas is trying to become more like Toronto, working hard to bring real urbanity to the strip and especially to its neglected downtown, where the new Zappos corporate headquarters will be the anchor of a live-work-play district.

Gaming’s advocates hold up a vision of high-rollers and free-spending tourists, spreading their dollars around the whole city, benefiting retailers, hotels, theatres, restaurants and other businesses with their largesse. But the vast majority of casino patrons turn out to be locals, coming back night after night to spend their hard-earned money on the slots. Just 10 per cent of a casino’s patrons account for some two-thirds to four-fifths of the wagers that are made on their premises, according to a 2011 study by Baylor University economist Earl L. Grinols.

Casinos have been found encourage more gambling of this type and even to spur gambling addiction, which falls most heavily on young single men, those with lower levels of education and income, and minorities.

Legalized gambling’s costs in crime, bankruptcies, lost productivity and diminished social capital exceed the supposed gains from added jobs and revenues by a ratio of three to one, according to Grinols’ research. A “tax on ignorance” is how Warren Buffett once put it.

Casinos produce little real wealth for their communities. They generate virtually no economic spinoff activity and in fact tend to poach business away from other local restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

Then there is the question of opportunity costs: What is the city giving up by placing a casino on prime waterfront land? A great deal, actually.

Toronto’s waterfront is an enormous, shared asset that must be carefully cultivated and planned for. New projects, whether a mega-casino or a giant Ferris wheel, cannot just be slapped down without regard for our collective future. The area is already intensely developed with condos and other mixed uses.

The Ontario Place property in particular begs for more parks and green space, biking and hiking trails and access to the water for sailing, boating, kayaking. Green space, natural amenities and other esthetic qualities are the main factors that make people satisfied and happy with their communities, according to recent research.

Gambling is one of the least productive economic activities imaginable — all it does is remove money from one set of pockets and put it in another, without producing anything concrete as part of the exchange.

Toronto, the province and their leaders would do well to heed John Maynard Keynes’ famous warning: “When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.”
I am not really in favour of casinos but it is silly to think that if we do not have one in Toronto then people will not gamble. There are free buses to Casino Rama and Niagara Fallsso if one wants to gamble one can. There are also slots in several places in the City and lottery terminals on virtually every block.

However, if a casino is to be built in the City it really must be built close to decent transportation because to have shuttle buses running all over the City is not sensible. That means it either goes somewhere that already has good transit or where good transit could be extended (or built faster than anticipated. If it went to the Ontario place site it could be well served by an extended Exhibition streetcar (something OP needs anyway). If it went to the Portlands it could be served by an extended Queen's Quay East streetcar - which of course is not yet built. I think the problem with the Portlands is that the whole area needs basic services (water, hydro, sewage) and flood protection before much can be built there so one would be building a casino, infrastructure and an LRT line. (The LRT and he infrastructure are planned for the area but not immediately.) I assume OP already has the infrastructure so it would 'only' require the casino and an extension to the streetcar. OP also has the advantage that it is already owned by the Province so I bet they could impose a casino on the City on that site (or maybe any site) if they wanted to.
The social implications? The crime? The near-daily suicides? The lack of economic impact? The banality of such a development?

You're absolutely right. Cities with existing casinos have all become hellhole rundown cities with shooting sprees and mass suicides.
Whether you can admit it or not, people will gamble and have access to gamble if they want to even if the closest casino is a 10 hour flight.
Torontonians fear with casinos reminds me of their fear with pedestrian streets.
The thread title asks where to site the Casino not your feelings about even having one anywhere is a good idea.

I think enhanced Transit is not a particularly important factor because ultimately a well developed tourist attraction could be self contained with Hotels, Theatres and shopping within walking distance.

Infrastructure such as sewers, water etc must be upgraded whether the Portlands are developed as a Gambling destination or a cluster of Churches.
You're absolutely right. Cities with existing casinos have all become hellhole rundown cities with shooting sprees and mass suicides.
Whether you can admit it or not, people will gamble and have access to gamble if they want to even if the closest casino is a 10 hour flight.
Torontonians fear with casinos reminds me of their fear with pedestrian streets.

I will go as far as to say that this statement is actually idiotic. Fallsview Casino as well as Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls are both creating ALOT of revenue. The origional plan was to demolish Casino Niagara once the new one was built, but they actually kept both open because they continued to create revenue for OLG. Niagara Falls is also anything but a rundown hellhole. Whether you like the development or not, it has not and will not leave Niagara Falls for a long time. Just recently Hilton expanded their massive hotel into the tallest hotel in Canada. Considering OLG is the largest gaming corporation in North America backs the fact that it has the capacity to expand. Gambling in Ontario is actually the second lowest of all the provinces, another reason that it can be expanded. Dalton finally made a good decision that actually creates revenue for Ontario rather than his 1.8 billion anually all day kindergarten and 30% tuition cut plans that are only pushing Ontario further and further into debt.
Spider, I'm not a big fan of the Portlands as a Casino location. I feel that a Casino in the portlands would actually be detrimental to the vision and future of that area.

I personally favour the Ontario place / Ex location and disagree with my local councillors regarding a moritorium on a Casino downtown. I feel that the social impact arguments are largely emotional in nature and more 1980's Atlantic city versus the reality of 2012 Toronto. It would have to be tastefully done however, an outcome with a slim chance of happening given OLG's track record.

However, the most likely location I feel would be the Woodbine site. Infact, if I were a betting man... I would suggest that Woodbine is almost certainly going to be the location of the Casino. I'm fairly OK with this. On the issue of social disruption and negative impacts I actually feel the Woodbine site is a far worse location because the neighbourhoods adjacent to this location are far more vulnerable than the limited impact one would expect at Ontario Place. This would be an interesting irony, with left-leaning downtown councillors actually forcing the Casino to locate in a location where the social impact would be higher.
Yes StCatherines, my comment was sarcastic. To imply that casinos alone will increase crime and other illegal activities is ridiculous.

As for location, i prefer Ontario Place. This could be used as the cornerstone to the redevelopment of OP and the exhibition grounds. Retail, nightlife, hotels and so on will eventually be build close by.
I'd prefer it didn't go at the Portlands and retain most of that area for parks and other activities.
Torontonians fear with casinos reminds me of their fear with pedestrian streets.
....and real bread (wonder+ LOL!!)

What's scary about casinos? I go to Niagara Falls' casinos at least three times a year and gamble away a grand total of 20 dollars each time. We go to drink and run around meeting people. Those places are like giant playgrounds for us. I want one closer to home.

I just don't understand the problem vis a vis crime and social implications. What, the same people who can't keep their pursestrings closed and have mental health issues presenting as addiction problems? Yeah, we tried eliminating drug use too. Maybe I have my head up me arse a bit here because I'm clearly in favour of casinos as giant playgrounds for aging youth such as myself and I may have addiction problems myself, but I don't see one lick of a problem with them. Except maybe that the ones in Niagara Falls are too small.

Re Woodbine location: If they stick it here I will continue to go to Niagara Falls only.
I like the Portlands idea but think the Exhibition would be a Toronto casino's natural home. At least the first few we get. :p
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Tourists are taking their money elsewhere so provide them what they want here in Toronto. A temporary casino at Ontario Place would be perfect until a permanent location is found and built and until plans move forward for a revitalized Ontario Place. Attach a condition that the Harbourfront route be looped around the west side of the Exhibition grounds with a station at Ontario Place and connected back in at Fleet St, paid for by the OLG. Just thinking ahead.
I am reminded of those who see the world through rose coloured glasses and are scorned for their optimism as being unrealistic and unable to perceive reality in their day to day life whenever a trolley fan manages to weave a Transit thread into every discussion of anything no matter how obscure the connection.