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OLG considering Vaughan casino

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) has added Vaughan to its list of possible casino sites as Toronto city council grapples with allowing a gambling facility in the city.

Vaughan now appears on a map of potential central Ontario locations on the OLG website, but was not initially considered a prime location.

Toronto, Mississauga and Markham-Richmond are also listed as possible locations for a gambling facility.

“The Vaughan facility could be very successful just like a facility in Markham — a facility in the south part of Mississauga,” said OLG chief executive Rod Phillips. “So a different facility but still one that would be a very good opportunity.”

Mayor Rob Ford said on Friday, “I’ve always said that if we don’t get the casino, someone else will pick it up,” repeating that a casino would bring “10,000 good-paying jobs” to Toronto.

“I don’t see a downside to this.”

At Queen’s Park, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said a Vaughan casino could “absolutely” be as lucrative as a Toronto one, but added that the Toronto proposal includes more than a casino.

“I think any other alternative within the region would be just as lucrative,” Sousa said, but Toronto includes a convention centre as well as infrastructure spending and surrounding capital projects.

“Either [location] would work for the province [as a casino] but what Toronto is giving consideration to is, what’s it going to do as a ripple effect? What’s it going to do for job creation? What’s it going to do in regards to the hotel and the tourism in the area?”

But not everyone was for a Vaughan casino, which would be a short drive to Woodbine Racetracks in Etobicoke.

“We fully expect that there would be serious cannibalization of the gaming operations that are here,” said Woodbine Entertainment Group spokeswoman Jane Holmes. “Woodbine and its business activities generate over 10,000 jobs for the City of Toronto. It would have [a] devastating impact.”

Toronto’s mayor has been vocal about his support for a downtown casino at the Port Lands or Exhibition Place, as has his brother Coun. Doug Ford and Coun. Norm Kelly. Councillors Mike Layton and Adam Vaughan are among those who oppose a downtown casino, as does the Toronto Board of Health and concerned residents who started the No Casino Toronto campaign.

A vote by city council on whether to allow a casino in the city is expected later this spring.

The OLG had promised Toronto between $50 – 100 million in hosting fees, a number that eclipses other municipalities and was seen as an incentive to build in the city.

On Wednesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne told OLG chairman Paul Godfrey and CEO Rod Phillips that there would be no special funding deal for Toronto.