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Council gives casino expansion thumbs up, but turns down gambling program boost

The City of Ottawa is officially on board with a $318-million expansion project at the Hard Rock Casino, but was not in favour of a motion by councillor Tobi Nussbaum.
2018- 03-07 Hard Rock Casino GL
A rendering shows the plans for Hard Rock Casino Ottawa, to be built at Rideau Carleton Raceway. (Image supplied by: PRNewsfoto/Hard Rock International)

The Hard Rock Casino expansion has been approved by Ottawa City Council through a zoning amendment on Albion Road, but not without some discussion.

Some councillors had some concerns about the impact gambling would have on the community.

Ottawa Public Health has laid out a four-point plan to help problem gamblers, which includes the creation of the Ottawa Gambling Harm Prevention Network. They will also be receiving $150,000 in one time funding and $200,000 more in annual funding for the program, but City Councillor Tobi Nussbaum said will not be enough. 

He suggested adding 2% of the city's revenue from the casino to help ensure that the program is well equipped. It was a motion defeated, with the mayor weighing in.

"I'm not minimizing the fact that there will be people who have challenges and problem gambling issues, but it should not be the city's responsibility to take that as a download from the province of Ontario," said Jim Watson.

He added that the city should not subsidize the provincial government, as they get the biggest cut of revenue from the casino.

The expansion project will see Hard Rock Casino Ottawa invest more than $318-million over six years. 

It is expected to create approximately 3,100 construction jobs and hundreds of permanent employment opportunities. 

An area traffic management study will have to be done before construction can begin. The casino will also need to provide a written commitment to work with City staff on any infrastructure improvements needed to deal with additional traffic demand.

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