“Our core objective through all of this is discharging our mandate, which is
to maximize our financial performance so we can offer the highest-quality horse
racing. That’s what we’re about and we need to ensure that these new
opportunities can help us deliver on that.”
As Finance Minister Dwight Duncan continues to embrace his vision for a
casino in Toronto and in other locales across the province, Woodbine
Entertainment Group’s President and CEO Nick Eaves remains steadfast in his
conviction that Woodbine and Mohawk Racetracks would be ideal locations for
“Mohawk and, more broadly, Woodbine are logical sites for expanded gaming,”
Eaves said to the Guelph Mercury. “That’s a simple reality in both of their
cases given their locations vis-à-vis major metropolitan markets and the scale
of their existing gaming operations. They are great platforms, in our view, for
the sort of expanded gaming that the OLG has said they intend to pursue under
With that in mind, Eaves told The Mercury that horse racing “remains
[WEG's] absolute commitment” while acknowledging it wouldn’t be possible to
determine if the organization could maintain the current purse structure.
On Wednesday, Duncan described one vision for gaming under the OLG’s
much-discussed and publicly-panned modernization strategy, a $4-billion
“entertainment destination” that could create 4,000 permanent jobs for
“These are not the days of Bugsy Siegel,” said Duncan in a Toronto Star story.
“These places have some of the finest shopping, restaurants, convention facilities,
park spaces, open spaces. Imagine an anchor that could create a golden mile on
Toronto’s waterfront. And that’s quite possible.”
While Duncan did admit that other municipalities have been “quite aggressive”
in expressing interest, building a casino at a location in Toronto such as the
provincially-owned Ontario Place would require approval through a referendum.
According to The Star, citizens of the six municipalities that now make
up Toronto “overwhelmingly rejected” casinos in 1997. A poll in January 2012
showed that half of 1,560 Toronto residents surveyed were opposed to a Toronto
casino and 35 per cent were in favour.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has long supported the idea of a casino at Woodbine
Racetrack, considering it the ideal spot for gaming expansion.
“I’ve always supported casinos for job creation. That’s the bottom line,”
said Ford to Sun News. “It creates good jobs, well paying jobs, so
I’ve always supported the slots up at Woodbine (Racetrack) and I’ve always said
that my first choice would be Woodbine. I’m up to anything. If they want to put
(a casino at) Ontario Place or anywhere else, I’m open to the idea. Casinos
stimulate our economy. They are going to create jobs and that’s a fact.”
Councillor Adam Vaughan disagrees with Ford and cites the 1997 referendum as
proof Toronto residents don’t want a casino.
“People don’t like casinos. They still don’t like casinos, and rather than
waste a bunch of money holding another casino referendum to show that people
don’t like casinos, let’s just acknowledge the fact we have a casino referendum
result,” Vaughan said.