Keeping Council Calm During Casino Debate

- October 3rd, 2012

The Rideau Carleton Raceway, pictured Oct. 2, 2012. Photo by Errol McGihon.

The OLG taking control of the tendering process for a new casino leaves the ball out of the city’s court for now.

Council will try to have some influence with a motion recommending the OLG shortlists the Rideau Carleton Raceway in the multistage tendering process. I don’t think anyone — including the guy whose name is on the motion, Osgoode Coun. Doug Thompson — is counting on the gaming corporation to agree.

But, Thompson and Mayor Jim Watson had to do something to temporarily satisfy the raceway and horse racing industry.

Thompson revealed today his original motion was to ask the finance and economic development committee (and then council) to support the raceway as the only choice for a new casino in Ottawa.

That motion would have been potentially explosive if councillors became protective of their areas.

Think, west end councillors and Scotiabank Place.

You can imagine, that kind of fiery debate would not sit well with the mayor’s office since — and we heard this several times last night — it’s the OLG forcing the casino issue on the city. Now is not the time to fight over locations. We heard it over and over.

Of course, the way the OLG process is set up, there won’t be such a debate on locations.

The debate will be about location.

Just one.

Which is why Thompson is suggesting a council “slugfest” to figure out where politicians want a casino and take a bit of (unlikely) control over the process. I can’t say for sure if the majority of council would support it, but it seems to me several members would back Thompson and his quest to keep gambling machines running at the raceway.

And debate?

Count on Watson being very involved behind the scenes to make sure the absolute best location the OLG can choose is also the least divisive.

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Follow City Hall reporter Jon Willing on Twitter at @JonathanWilling and at ottawasun.com.

Categories: Gambling

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