The proposed Woodbine Racetrack casino expansion could bring in roughly $30 million in annual revenue for the city and provide hundreds of jobs to local workers, but critics aren’t sure the project is a safe bet.
A new report from interim city manager Giuliana Carbone notes that in 2022, when the facility is fully built-out, the city can expect to receive $26 to $31 million a year, according to estimates from the province’s Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).
The latest annual city revenue numbers are reportedly lower than earlier projections. One of the flaws in the report doesn’t consider the potential costs to the city, be it policing or social costs stemming from problem gambling.
The report suggests council put a stamp of approval on the efforts of service provider Ontario Gaming GTA LP to meet various conditions laid out by council in 2015, which include mitigating the negative impacts of gambling by working with city staff and the medical officer of health.
Those 21 conditions also include boosting tourism and providing jobs, with a commitment to having at least 40 percent of employees hired in the community and through local social agencies.
All the conditions have all been met, notes the report, which also recommends the city enter into a formal Community Benefits Agreement with Ontario Gaming.
Woodbine is expected to become a full-fledged casino and entertainment and hotel complex by 2022.
Woodbine will hire a minimum of 40 per cent of its employees through local or social agencies, said the most recent report. After two years, 50 per cent of employees will be full-time. It plans to increase its workforce by 500 new jobs.
Some critics point out the company should invest its profits or part of it into the surrounding communities and help the area benefit from its presence. – CINEWS