Ontario looks to cash-in with a casino in downtown Ottawa

Wednesday 19th February 2020

As far as Ottawa's mayor is concerned a downtown casino may not be a bad bet.

Mayor Jim Watson says it could be a draw for tourism and help make the province and the city a ton of money.

"We'll have to wait and see what the OLG has in mind but certainly one of my objectives is to keep more of the money in Ontario and in Ottawa helping our healthcare system and our education system," says Watson.

The Ontario Gaming and Lottery Corporation is looking to cash in by launching a new gambling strategy. It means no more funding for slots at Rideau Carleton Raceway and the possibility of a full-fledged casino in the core of the city.

"What we have to do is discuss things with the City of Ottawa," says Paul Godfrey with the OLG. "We have to look at the gaming zone around there...we want to put the facilities where the people happen to be."

For now, they happen to be driving across the provincial boarders to the Casino du Lac Leamy in Gatineau. The parking lot is often packed and as Ottawa mayor says it "is wall to wall Ontario licence plates."

It is a reminder for Watson of what many say was a bad bet made in the 90s when council folded on a casino on Sparks Street.

"I think at the time it was a mistake and of course the Quebec casino came out and literally tens of millions of dollars have flown out of Ontario and into Quebec."

Early speculation has pointed to Sparks Street, the old train station on Rideau Street or even Lansdowne Park as eligible locations for an Ottawa casino.

Nothing has been confirmed. Both the OLG and the City say it is too early to talk such specifics.


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