CASINO TALK: Council to wade into the subject, again, Monday

CASINO TALK: Council to wade into the subject, again, Monday

CORNWALL, Ontario – An old idea will see some new debate Monday night, as city councillors once again wade into the subject of a Cornwall casino.

Councillors will decide whether to ask administrators to prepare a report on the feasibility of such a scheme.

But it might already be too late.

Last year the previous city council found out that Cornwall is nowhere close to securing a casino because the province is not approving any new locations for gaming houses in Ontario.

In 2014 the Ontario auditor general released a report concerning the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corporation’s modernization plan.

Buried in the report is a specific mention that a Cornwall casino, planned by OLG for winter of this year is no longer a viable option.

“While Cornwall was initially considered as a potential site for a new gaming facility, OLG received government approval for 29 Gaming Zones across the province,” said OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti last year. “Included in that initial group of 29 zones were the 24 current OLG slots, casinos and resort casinos, as well as the potential for up to five new gaming sites in North Bay, Kenora, Wasaga Beach or Collingwood, Belleville or Quinte West, and the GTA.

“At this time, there are no plans to expand the number of gaming zones across the province.

At the time Bitonti did not answer specific questions as to when the process for considering Cornwall began, why the plan was shelved, or if it could be resurrected.

Back in April, 2012 city council was looking at getting permission from the province to allow construction of a casino in the Seaway City.

City council gave the green light to at least explore the idea of a casino in Cornwall, by asking administrators to prepare a report on the quickest way to request Queen’s Park approval to build a gaming house here.

In early March of that year, the provincial government lifted a moratorium on casinos that had been in place since 2005. Municipalities were required to hold mandatory referendums on new casinos as part of the legislation that has now lapsed.

Councillors Brock Frost and Mark MacDonald have authored Monday’s motion, seeking to task administrators with once again exploring the idea.

The councillors point to the economic spinoffs of such an enterprise.

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