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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Update on the Toronto Casino

By Michael D. Lipton, Q.C. and Kevin J. Weber

A couple of weeks ago in Gaming Legal News, we reported that changes might be made to Ontario Regulation 347/000 under the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act, 1999 that would affect the need for public approval of the proposed Toronto casino. At the time of our last article, it was unclear whether the regulations would be amended to simply accelerate the referendum or to do away with the referendum requirement entirely.

Recent events strongly indicate that the government will remove the referendum requirement, perhaps replacing it with a requirement to obtain some expression of public support that does not necessarily require a referendum vote.

Last month, a Progressive Conservative opposition Member of Provincial Parliament, Monte McNaughton, put forward a private member's bill that would require the holding of a municipal referendum before a casino development could be built. It is possible that the impetus for this bill arose after Mr. McNaughton learned of the likelihood that the regulations would be changed to eliminate the referendum requirement.

As a result, the political fight over the Toronto casino may move to counting the votes of the members of Toronto City Council required to pass a favorable resolution and a debate in Council over what constitutes a meaningful demonstration of public consultation.