Toronto officials mulling casino referendum

Mar 24, 2014

The idea of a casino for Toronto has been raised again, this time ahead of a municipal election slated for the fall. One Toronto businessman wants a referendum on the casino to be on the ballot for the election.

The latest push for a casino in Toronto comes from businessman Noah Shopsowitc, whose father was the founder of Shopsy's Delicatesan. Shopsowitz says a casino would provide a huge economic stimulus for the city.

Toronto city council voted down the idea last May, but Shopsowitz is pushing hard to get enough councillors to agree to a referendum to let the residents of Toronto decide.
City officials say a referendum could still be added to the October election. They warn, however that time is running out for consultations and notice, a city by-law would have to be approved by the end of April for the vote.   

They also say two-thirds of the council would have to support re-opening the May decision turning down the proposal.

It's not the first time the notion of a casino has been raised in Toronto. In a referendum in 1997 residents gave it the thumbs down. There is also concern that a casino in Toronto would draw business away from Ontario's major casino in Niagara Falls.

Mayor Rob Ford supports a casino in his city and says he would welcome a referendum.

But one anti-casino councillor Adam Vaughan doubts people in Toronto would vote any differently now than they did 17 years ago. He says a casino has about a much luck getting approved in a referendum as Rob Ford does getting re-elected mayor.