Torontonians love gambling and this fact is confirmed by the interesting history of the local casinos. In 1978, the province began to consider opening casino spots at major fairs. It took a long time for the decision to be made in favour of the gaming industry. Learn more about the history of “gambling” Toronto at toronto-future.
A lot of misunderstandings
The decision to implement casinos at fairs wasn’t easy for officials, as there were several opponents of the idea. Alderman Art Eggleton was one of them. He believed that the operation of the casino at the exhibitions would reduce the city’s reputation and divert people’s attention. Art also feared the growth of crime rates in Toronto. In 1984, Eggleton voted against the establishment of gaming spots at the city fairs.
In 1980, officials proposed to create a blackjack room with one-dollar-maximum-beds in the Coliseum. The Executive Committee of the City Council rejected it, arguing such a decision by the fact that the city doesn’t need to base its main income on gambling. In their opinion, it could cause serious problems.
However, the refusal really meant nothing because it still left the door open for casino advocates in Toronto. They continued to push for their idea, arguing that it would benefit the community.
Paul Godfrey, who headed the former Toronto City Council, was an active casino supporter. He criticised his colleagues’ decision to reject a proposal to create game zones at fairs. He claimed that casinos would be a good means of relaxation for the city residents and, at the same time, it would be of great benefit to the city treasury.
In 1984, the CNE submitted a proposal to the City Council to house 50 blackjack tables and 8 wheels of fortune in the renovated Coliseum annex. The casino had to be run by a charity organisation and all its profits should go to the city treasury. The proposal highlighted that the casino attracts different segments of the population. The city rejected this application again.
Never give up
In 1991, the CNE submitted another proposal, which turned out to be doomed just like the previous ones. However, at that time, CNE and the charities that were interested in casino profit raised uproar and the council had no choice but to reconsider.
Casino fans organised a mass rally at Exhibition Place, which gathered almost 100 charities. That had the desired effect. In June 1991, the City Council made a positive decision regarding the legal opening of a casino in Toronto. About 40 Toronto charities co-founded the first casino at Exhibition Stadium.
In early 1992, the province was considering the possibility of opening six casinos across Ontario. They planned to open two in Toronto, at Exhibition Place and Woodbine Racetrack. In 1993, several important laws were passed regarding the opening of casinos. Then-Toronto Premier Bob Rae insisted that only if the first project in Windsor would be successful, they could consider proposals to open casinos elsewhere.
In 1985, sports betting was legalised in Canada, and Toronto in particular. The same year, Canada’s first commercial land-based casino was opened in Winnipeg. In 1993, the first gaming establishments opened their doors in Montreal, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
After the opening, they continued to develop actively and gambling was becoming more and more accessible to people. Every year, such establishments brought a lot of money to the provinces. Over time, gambling, which used to be an activity under strict rules, has turned into a generally accepted pastime.