Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's office looking to expand gaming at Woodbine

TORONTO - Place your bets on another casino debate at Toronto City Hall.

Mayor Rob Ford’s office is looking for a way for City Hall to allow a gaming expansion at Woodbine Racetrack, the Toronto Sun has learned.

A report on the Woodbine Racetrack gaming revenue agreement between the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. and the City of Toronto is up for debate at next week’s executive committee meeting.

Councillor Doug Ford said he’d be “100% in favour” of having a debate about a “full blown casino” at Woodbine.

“What I’m concerned about is not the casino but saving 6,000 jobs at Woodbine and the horse industry, that’s pretty critical,” Ford said.

A source told the Sun, Mayor Ford’s office is trying to draft a motion that would be introduced during the debate on the gaming revenue report to allow an expansion of gaming at Woodbine. The motion would also likely call for a long-term staff report that would look at the future of Woodbine Live and a casino at the site.

The casino is a touchy topic at Toronto City Hall.

Council rejected the prospect of a casino in the city’s downtown or at Woodbine Racetrack earlier this year.

Councillor Ford, who represents the Etobicoke North (Ward 2), admitted the casino fight at Woodbine was hurt by the anti-casino movement in the downtown.

“It turned into a whole you-know-what show,” he said.

“Right now Woodbine is as close to a casino as you can get right now — if you want to wager on horses or wager on the slot machines, they can do it.”

Ford said his “biggest concern” now is trying to get two-thirds of council to support a reopening of the casino debate.

“I know we can get 51% (of council). Maybe the clerk can direct us a different way of getting this back on the table there,” he said.
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