Torontonians are getting a chance to voice their opinions on gambling in the city tonight.

The meeting, organized by Toronto and East York Community Council, began at city hall at 6 p.m. to allow for public input into plans for a potential casino in Toronto.

Approximately 50 people attended the meeting to offer their opinions on a matter which has created a drastic divide between city councillors.

“It’s just fancy pictures with big numbers, but none of it is real,” said Coun. Adam Vaughan, who called the current casino proposal “corporate pornography.”

“We know that the plans here are not just for a casino but they’re for slot machines in bingo halls, slot machines in corner stores. It’s about gambling in every neighbourhood, not just a mega casino downtown,” Vaughan said.

Tony Bitonti of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. said that placing video lottery terminals in convenience stores is not part of the big picture plan for Toronto.

“Mr. Vaughan knows this fact,” Bitonti said. “We’ve been very clear with him and it’s in our report [and] we’ve said it publicly. We are focusing on casinos. Proposals like vlt’s are not part of the equation and won’t be part of the equation either.”

Others pointed to the potential for job creation through a casino as a positive for the city.

“We’re talking about a two to $3 billion dollar development that you don’t come along every day,” Bill Rutsey of the Canadian Gaming Association said. “We’re talking about 6,000 construction jobs, up to 12,000 permanent jobs [and] an iconic development that’s integrated into the entertainment fabric of this city.”

At a news conference held earlier on Wednesday, the association unveiled a new website to detail the possible positive effect that a casino could have on the city.

Some residents, however, question the impact a new facility would have on the city's existing entertainment industry.

“The main thing about going downtown is that we know, from research, that it will cannibalize the local tourist industry,” said Maureen Lynett of the group No Casino Toronto. “Casinos work to keep their patrons in the casino, so any claims that they make about being a boost to the businesses around we do not believe are true.”

City staff are expected to report to Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee in November on the pros and cons of a Toronto casino.

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