No holiday break for anti-casino group



TORONTO -- A group fighting a Toronto casino sees no reason to let the holiday season slow them down.

No Casino Toronto has sent an e-mail to potential supporters in advance of next month's City of Toronto public consultations requesting their help.

"Our message must get out there and for this to happen your continued support is essential," the e-mail reads.
The group says even $5 will help put two anti-casino colour lawn signs up.

A City of Toronto web page says "community open houses" will be starting Jan. 9 in the City Hall rotunda and continue through much of the month.

"The consultation will gather input, including the public's views and opinions on a casino generally, on possible locations for a casino, and what the public would like Council to consider when making a decision on this matter," it says.

Tony Bitonti, a spokesman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG), said staff have been in contact with city officials, providing information and answering their questions.

The OLG has designated Toronto, Markham, Ont., and Mississauga, Ont., for a new casino, and is currently considering a request from Vaughan, Ont., to be included in this group, Bitonti said.

Only one of the three, or potentially four, municipalities will get a casino.

Under the rules, each municipal council must decide whether it supports a casino and provide evidence of public consultation.

OLG will then initiate a Request for Pre-Qualifications (RFPQs) to assess whether potential bidders are qualified to operate the gaming facility.

Once that process has been completed, the OLG will issue a Request for Proposals to build and operate the casino.

"We want to make a decision hopefully in 2013," Bitonti said.

RFPQs have already been sent out in three parts of the province where local governments have already made decisions on casinos - Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and Northern Ontario.

"We will go only where we're welcome," Bitonti said, noting the OLG hopes to have awarded contracts for new casino projects across Ontario by the end of the year.

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