News / Ottawa

Casino takes under-the-radar approach for gaming approval

The owners of the Rideau Carleton Raceway and Casino are attempting to get approvals for expanding gaming at a small, and less publicized, committee.

A rendering of Hard Rock Casinos Ottawa's proposal for a $320 million renovation at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.

Hard Rock Casinos Ottawa

A rendering of Hard Rock Casinos Ottawa's proposal for a $320 million renovation at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.

The owners of the Rideau Carleton Raceway and Casino are asking the city’s committee of adjustment to approve a 66 per cent increase in gaming tables, bypassing the longer, but more public, process of bringing it to planning committee. 

Critics of the move say the casino is trying to pull a “backdoor maneuver,” to avoid facing pushback from councillors who would like to see more scrutiny of expandied gambling in Ottawa.

“We’re not having that open discussion that we were led to believe was going to happen,” said Coun. Keith Egli, who has pushed for a greater role for Ottawa Public Health. 

The committee of adjustment deals with minor variances, and receives much less attention from the public and media. For the casino’s application to go through, the committee will first have to determine the application is truly minor in nature, with the option to send it to the larger committee.

Coun. Diane Deans, who chairs the community and protective services committee, said that with the casino expected to lay out a larger vision for the casino sometime in the near future, this is a bad start. “Using a sneaky backdoor approach, in my estimation, is not what they should be doing to build a healthy relationship,” she said. 

Coun. George Darouze, who represents the ward, said he disagreed that it was a “sneaky” process.

“It’s a public, open forum. People can go speak at it.” 

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