Ernst & Young cites the Las Vegas Aria Resort, City Centre Complex as an example of the kind of facility that could be brought to Toronto.
Toronto's top civil servant is making the case for a bringing a casino to the city, claiming that a downtown gaming complex could all but fix the financial problems at City Hall.
A report released Monday by city manager Joe Pennachetti concluded that, depending on the location, an "integrated entertainment complex" that included a casino, hotel, convention centre, and retail space could land the city up to $27 million a year in property taxes and $168 million in annual hosting fees from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
The construction of a 3,800,000 ft2 facility alone would generate 8,500 jobs over three years, according to the report, and once the complex was up and running it would create the equivalent of 7,300 new full time positions.
City manager Joe Pennachetti believes the anticipated revenue could wipe out the budget gap council works to fill each year.
"The fiscal benefits to the city would be significant enough to virtually solve our operating fiscal sustainability [problems]," Pennachetti told reporters at City Hall Monday.
The report, based on data compiled by consultant firm Ernst & Young, examined the possibility of both a gaming complex and a standalone casino at Woodbine racetrack, Exhibition Place, the Port Lands, and the current site of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
A complex at Exhibition Place was found to be the most lucrative scenario from the city's perspective, because the land is municipally owned. Pennachetti predicted that selling or leasing the land to a casino developer could net the city $250 million, in addition to other revenues.
While the fiscal picture the report paints is decidedly rosey, its best case scenario hinges on convincing the OLG to agree to pay Toronto a hosting fee in the order of $106 - 168 million, which is several times higher than what the corporation currently pays host cities.
Under the standard formula the corporation will begin employing next year to determine payouts, Toronto would only receive a maximum of $18 million for a new gambling facility.
But Pennachetti says that because a Toronto casino would make $1.4 billion a year, effectively doubling OLG revenues, the city deserves special consideration. It's unclear whether the OLG would be willing to match his number however.
"It is too early to speculate on exact dollar figures for hosting fees as we don't know the type of facility Toronto will approve, or where the facility will be located," wrote OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti in an email.
While Monday's report is likely to give ammunition to those at City Hall who are pushing for a casino, opponents of the idea aren't swayed.
Councillor Mike Layton, whose ward includes Exhibition Place, says that the report doesn't take into account any of the negative impacts a casino would have on the social and economic fabric of the surrounding communities.
"I would have hoped that we would have had an objective report and one that actually challenges assumptions made by both sides, but we didn't," Layton says. "What we got was a regurgitation of casino lobby facts and figures."
The councillor says a gaming complex at Exhibition Place would kill the Canadian National Exhibition, destroy small businesses across the downtown, and add to the city's traffic problems. On an individual level, he says that families can be torn apart by gambling addictions.
The manager's report will go before Mayor Rob Ford's executive committee on Monday, where councillors are expected to refer it to public consultation. A separate report from the medical officer of health on the health risks associated with casinos will be tabled next month and rolled into the process.
Pennachetti will report back on the consultation results in February or March of 2013, meaning council could make a final decision on a Toronto casino five months from now.
Councillor Adam Vaughan argues that's not nearly enough time to conduct a proper consultation.
"Everything about this is a rush to judgment with bad data," he says. "Quite frankly, something as volatile, and as dangerous, and as potentially damaging as a casino, you don't want to make the decision quickly, you don't want to make it on bad data."
Vaughan is distrustful of the job and revenue figures in the city manager's report, and claims that Ernst & Young based its projections on biased information from the OLG.
But Pennachetti stands by the numbers, which he says have been vetted by independent experts and city economic development staff.
"We tried to be as conservative as possible... I don't believe anybody can look me in the eye and tell me they're outrageous," Pennachetti said.