The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has been dealt a bad hand by University of Toronto scholars this month, as the Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI), a Rotman Commerce think tank, brought an academic critique to the downtown casino debate.

MPI’s report, entitled “The Economic ‘Impact’ of a Downtown Casino in Toronto,” claims to be “a very different kind of research report,” exposing the financial risks of the casino plans.

“No one had really stood up and challenged the OLG and casino companies,” said Kevin Stolarick, MPI Research Director. “I see this report as doing little more than saying ‘excuse me, but your emperor hasn’t got any clothes on.’”

Mayor Rob Ford has promised that a casino will provide 10,000 new jobs and as much as $200 million in additional annual revenues. The report, however, argues that these promises are unsubstantiated.

“All we have are numbers, lots and lots of numbers,” the document reads. “The important thing is that all of them are meaningless.”

Focused strictly on economic implications, the report questions whether a casino will truly have a positive impact on jobs, neighbourhoods and the city as a whole. After considering the effects a casino would have on the city, they concluded that any promises of “amazing new jobs” just “don’t add up.”

Job opportunities will become available with the casino, however the authors of the report say that statistically low-paying casino jobs “are not the kind of jobs that any city should be actively pursuing to increase.”

The casino is to be a part of a hotel project, but the report claims that Toronto is already oversaturated for hotels. “Tourism from the US to Toronto has seen significant declines while our number of available hotel rooms has been increased. Adding another mega-hotel to the city will not increase the number of hotel-related workers,” the authors write.

While providing a strong cautionary tale, the report remains speculative. No real statistics on a Toronto casino can be deduced until after it is built and opened. Still, this report is willing to bet on the casino being less of a win for the city than Ford would have Torontonians believe.

Now facing direct resistance from Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, the OLG continues to run into bad luck at the table. The MPI report adds one more obstacle for the casino proponents to overcome.

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: Martin Prosperity Institute documents reveals the risks of downtown casino
comments powered by Disqus