MGM wants in on Toronto, proposal in place to build resort-casino in the city

TAGs: Casino News, MGM Resorts, Toronto

torontoNow that MGM Resorts International‘s application process in Massachusetts is now in the hands of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the casino operator is setting its sights on another location north of the border. It’s no secret that MGM has had its eye on Toronto for quite some time now, and now they’re taking the next step in expressing their intent by going to the city to pitch what it believes the fabulous metropolitan city needs: a glistening, waterfront integrated resort.

The Vegas-based company is thinking big with its plans for Toronto, and when they mean big, they’re not talking about a simple box casino. Nope. For these guys, ‘big’ equates to, for starters, $2.4 billion in capital investment alone. MGM CEO James Murren made that clear when he told CBC News that should Toronto decide to have a casino built in the city, it should go big. Real big. “Let me be clear,” said Murren, “in order for Toronto to realize the financial impact and diversity of service we have outlined here today can only be achieved through the integrated resort model — a box casino will not deliver this to Toronto.”

As it stands, MGM’s proposal calls for a resort and a casino to be built at the waterfront location of Exhibition Place. In order to sweeten the pot for the community, MGM will also spend money to revitalize neighboring communities, something Murren alluded to when he made his pitch to civic and city leaders.

MGM is one of a few operators that have had a keen eye on Toronto, waiting to see if the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s pitch to allow the building of a future casino in the bustling metropolis gets the necessary backing from lawmakers. Caesars Entertainment already has a proposal in place to build at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre while Sands is also looking into making a casino play in the city.

Regardless of what MGM and all the other operators are planning for Toronto, nothing can be set in stone until Toronto politicians make a decision on whether to allow a casino in the city or not. The OLG has been one of the most ardent proponents of putting up a billion-dollar casino project in Toronto, something OLG Chairman Paul Godfrey says would not only create a great opportunity to create thousands of jobs but also bring in billions of investment dollars for the city and its surrounding provinces. “What we have to do it get this process finalized in 2013,” Godfrey said a few months ago.

Still, there are still a lot of meetings and back-and-forth discussions that are expected to take place before any of the giant casino operators can even begin discussing concrete plans of having a casino in Toronto. And if the end result means ‘nay’, then MGM won’t have a problem moving on if the city council votes the measure down. “No harm, no foul, we will move on,” said Murren.


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