City would get $100M in casino hosting fees, OLG says
Chris Fox and Paul Johnston , CP24.com
Published Friday, March 15, 2013 11:50AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 15, 2013 5:50PM EDT
Toronto would receive a hosting fee that would dwarf those given to other municipalities should a casino be built here, the CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. tells CP24.
Rod Phillips made the comment on Friday morning after a report in the Globe and Mail suggested the city would get a fee that is at least double the one being offered to other municipalities that have shown interest in hosting a casino.
The OLG is interesting in building five new casinos across the province and so far 39 municipalities have shown interest in hosting one.
City council was expected to vote on whether they want to add Toronto’s name to that list in April, but that vote will now be pushed back due to a delay in the release of a staff report on the matter.
“This hosting fee is possible because of the size and scale that global gaming companies have confirmed is possible in the city. If there was a size and scale facility like this somewhere else in the province it would be the same sort of fee,” Phillips said. “We have had real representations from gaming companies saying they could build a $2 billion plus facility with as many as 10,000 jobs. That’s why the OLG would look at a fee in that range”
Phillips told CP24 that Toronto would receive an estimated $50 to $100 million annually for hosting a casino.
That number compares favorably with the $3 million the Globe and Mail report said the cities of Niagara Falls and Windsor receive for their casinos.
“It’s not a new story and it is not a special deal for Toronto,” Phillips said. “We are using a consistent approach across the province.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne was adamant Friday that Toronto would not receive a "special" deal involving hosting fees.
“The approach OLG is taking in Toronto with regard to hosting fees will be the same as the approach being used in other parts of Ontario,” Wynne said in a statement. “The hosting fee for Toronto would reflect the size and scale that global gaming companies have confirmed is possible in the city. If the same capital investment and job potential are possible elsewhere, the same hosting fees would be generated.”
Casino debate has been heated
The prospect of building a casino in Toronto has generated considerable debate.
Mayor Rob Ford has spoken out in favour of the idea, saying it would bring in much needed revenue. However, several councillors and activists have been outspoken in opposition, suggesting the social cost would be far too high.
Meanwhile, a number of Las Vegas heavyweights have begun lobbying for the right to build a casino in the city.
Last week, MGM Resorts International and Cadillac Fairview even unveiled their vision for a three-million square foot complex to be built at Exhibition Place.
“We have been clear from the beginning that this is about the City of Toronto and I think the city has done a very thorough process so far,” Phillips said. “We are just making sure council has the information they need.”
Job fair set for Saturday
And while there is still a way to go before a gaming facility opens in the city, that’s not stopping one of the interested parties from hosting a ‘career showcase’ on Saturday.
"Should an Integrated Resort come to Toronto, it will create thousands of diverse and dynamic new career opportunities," Alan Feldman of MGM Resorts International said in a released statement. "These jobs will have an average salary of $60,000 per year and we'll be using a 'hire local first' approach to acquiring talent."
Officials with MGM say the prosed three-million square foot complex unveiled last Wednesday would generate 10,000 permanent full-time jobs and another 4,000 construction jobs.
The event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will include Randy Morton, president and COO of the Bellagio, Toronto chef Mark McEwan and a number of current employees from other MGM properties.
The event takes place at Liberty Grand, located at 25 British Columbia Rd.
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