A GTA casino is all but dead after City of Vaughan says no
The OLG and the lobbyists doing the wet work to find a willing host in the GTA for a fabulous casino are down to their last few chips, and about to tap out.
And now we know Paul Godfrey was pushing a stone cold bluff when he warned Toronto city council that it had better jump at the offer of a downtown casino, and the sooner the better, or another GTA municipality would snap it up.
Vaughan city council voted 5-4 against a casino on Tuesday, leaving Richmond Hill and Mississauga as the only GTA municipalities that haven’t said no and would still be considered by the OLG.
Mississauga politicians have said they have no appetite for a casino, while Richmond Hill hasn’t made any welcoming noises, which means the odds that the OLG will find a willing chump anywhere in the GTA are longer than ever.
So the casino dream is over. All that lobbying and schmoozing (let me pour you another, friend) and tickling and jobs, jobs, jobs, and nothing to show for it.
The threats that sounded so dire a year ago – A $175 million a year bonanza to the city lost! 12,000 high-paying jobs gone! – now look ham-handed and ridiculous.
Who can forget that cloudy day last fall when OLG chair Paul Godfrey, who has since been canned for leading the Liberal government horribly astray, offered his sage advice to Toronto’s business community, and by extension, city council.
“There’s a tremendous opportunity here for the City of Toronto,” he said in a speech to the Toronto Board of Trade.
“But there’s also an opportunity here for Mississauga, for Markham, for Richmond Hill and perhaps Vaughan. All these sites could make great host sites.
“I want you to understand this. We are prepared to move forward in any one of them. But only one.
“The OLG is going to move forward with (building) and entertainment centre within the GTA. But we are only going to do so in a community that welcomes us.”
If Toronto city council couldn’t make a decision by February, Godfrey warned that the OLG
would start looking elsewhere.
It was a clear threat to bestow the benefits of a casino on a more grateful community – and they were lining up for the chance, if you believed Paul – but it is now revealed as an amateurish bluff.
This is one of those unique situations when politicians across the GTA did the right thing. They resisted the lobbying and smelled a scam in the promised benefits, which leaves the OLG’s plan to squeeze us for even more gambling revenue dead in the water.