Would a mega casino in Toronto’s downtown core “jeopardize the success of our downtown”? That’s what some Toronto developers are arguing, as they continue to plead with city managers to disallow a mega casino that wants to move in.

That casino is most likely going in, and there are currently three possible development sites available for it – the convention centre, Exhibition Place, and the Port Lands. Those in support of the casino are touting the benefits a huge casino would bring to the city in the form of employment opportunities and other economic benefits. However, many real estate firms are strongly opposed to the idea.

One of those groups is the RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, an organization that also just happens to have Paul Godfrey, chair of the provincial gaming agency, as its head of the board. In a recent letter to the city, RioCan expressed their concerns saying,

“In our view, the risk of the potential negative impacts from developing a mega casino in the Downtown outweighs the potential benefits.”

The CEO of RioCan, Ed Sonshine, also pitched in, saying that the Metro Convention Centre is an especially bad idea, as that’s less than a mile down the street from where they are currently eyeing an eight-acre parcel of land for their own developments. Two such large developments they say, would put a great strain on the downtown core and is highly inadvisable.

“It’s a bad idea because of traffic, because of infrastructure, because of all kinds of reasons,” said Mr. Sonshine. “Certainly we have no problem if the city decides to put a casino somewhere else. We just think it would be a disaster there on Front Street. We are not taking a position on a casino. We are taking a position on a casino in the core.”

But would having a huge casino, even on Front Street, be such a terrible thing? Toronto is the biggest city in Canada and as such, it has a very stable infrastructure that may be able to support a casino. Casino developments have also worked out extremely well for other Ontario cities, Niagara Falls and Gananoque are just two that have seen huge economic booms from casino facilities – and Niagara has two!

What do you think? Would a mega casino be good for Toronto’s downtown core, or bad? And if you think it would be bad, where do you think would be an acceptable place for a casino in Toronto?


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