Economic impact would create jobs and spread to neighbouring restaurants, hotels and shops
Imagine this Toronto a decade from now: The city is among the top 10 convention destinations in North America, in the same league as Chicago, Washington and San Francisco. It’s got 12,000 newly created well-paying jobs at a downtown facility. And it receives additional millions in recurring annual revenues that it didn’t have before.
What could make this scenario a reality? A brand-new gaming and entertainment centre, worth more than $2 billion in private capital investment.
“That would make it the largest, urban, privately funded development ever in Canada,” said Ontario Lottery and Gaming president and CEO Rod Phillips in a recent speech at the Canadian Club of Toronto.
The Greater Toronto Area currently hosts one provincially regulated gaming site, Woodbine Racetrack, which offers wagering on horse races and OLG slots. The province and OLG are proposing to add one additional site within the GTA, in order to bring the casino experience closer to those who want to play.
“Customers in the GTA, Canada’s largest population centre, want facilities that are convenient for them, just like customers in any other business,” Phillips said.
Vaughn, Markham and Mississauga are also being considered as host sites.
The possibilities are virtually limitless when it comes to what a Toronto gaming and entertainment facility could look like, but one thing is for sure: It would be what Phillips termed “an iconic facility.”
A GTA casino resort could include a large hotel, retail, restaurants, a theatre space, convention space and a casino gaming floor that covers only about 10 per cent of the imagined facility’s total area.
Whether it were located in downtown Toronto, on the Exhibition Grounds or the nascent Port Lands, a Toronto gaming and entertainment centre would provide new revenue for the city.
At this stage, it’s impossible to determine exactly how much the city of Toronto could receive in revenue from a casino resort. However, the city hired consulting firm Enrst & Young LLP last summer to conduct a study to determine the potential economic benefits Toronto could expect if a casino resort were located within the municipality.
Working with well-researched assumptions about the size of a potential casino resort and the number of visitors it would receive, Ernst & Young was able to come up with a revenue range that comprised the fees the city would receive for hosting a casino, property tax the facility would pay to the city and funds the city would receive if it sold property to the casino resort developer.
The one-time sale of city-owned property could net Toronto between $35 million and $250 million, depending on the location and area of the land that was sold. The land in the downtown core, near the CN Tower and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is not owned by the city, so funds from the sale of that land wouldn’t benefit Toronto directly. However, land near Exhibition Place is valued at between $10 million and $12 million per acre, and land in the Port Lands is worth about $1 million per acre. Considering that a proposed casino resort would sit on about 25 to 28 acres, the sale of parcels of land in two of the three locations could be quite lucrative.
In terms of property tax, a new facility that takes up about 25 to 28 acres could pay about $27 million to the city each year, according to Ernst & Young.
A Toronto casino resort would generate revenues in other ways, as well. It’s estimated that building the complex would cost about $2 billion, the trickle-down effect of which would be felt across the region. And another $1.5 billion to $2 billion of GDP would be pumped into the city annually for ongoing operations. This would come from tourists and locals who would visit the casino resort and any other nearby restaurants, theatres and shops, taking taxis and public transit, or paying to park their own cars in lots and garages.
Job creation is one of the most exciting economic impacts of a potential gaming and entertainment facility in Toronto.
“With a development of this scale, the job creation would be significant,” Phillips said, citing Ernst & Young figures. “There would be 6,000 construction jobs every year for three years, and 12,000 well-paying permanent jobs once the facility was open.”
Those permanent jobs would include highly specialized positions for marketing and hospitality professionals, dealers and croupiers, and restaurant and hotel personnel of all levels.
But workers and business owners wouldn’t have to be exclusively on site to benefit from a big, new gaming and entertainment complex.
“There would also be benefits to the businesses in the surrounding areas, meaning an increase in business, increase in business start-ups and employment,” Phillips said.
It has becoming increasingly clear that there could be a tremendous financial upside for the host community. And whether the facility ends up in Toronto or a nearby municipality, GTA gamers will have an exciting new venue to visit and tourists will have a new, iconic destination to draw them to the area.
For more information on the economic impact of a gaming and entertainment complex in the GTA, please visit: www.ModernOLG.ca.