What is happening?
The new operator of the slots at Western Fair, Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd, a BC-based company, announced plans for a $200 million expansion in May 2017. In December 2017, the Gateway presented a plan for a $140 million hotel and casino expansion on the site of the existing gaming operation at Western Fair to strategic priorities and policy committee. The expanded casino would include restaurants, a 125-room hotel, a reduced grandstand and table gaming.
The city leases land to the Western Fair through a ground lease and has a joint interest in many of the buildings on the Western Fair site. Gateway leases space from the Western Fair. You can learn more by reading this staff report. and watching Gateway's presentation to the committee (back in Dec 2017).
On 23 April 2018, a city staff report on public consultation on the issue of expanded gambling was presented to strategic priorities and policy committee. A public participation meeting was also held, where Londoners were able to share their views on expanded gambling. Following the public participation meeting, committee members debated the issue of expanded gambling and voted on several motions.
On Aug 30 2018, there was a community information meeting about a planning application for the lands, initiated by the City of London and the Western Fair. The meeting was an open house format and ran from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the BMO Centre, 295 Rectory St.
On 24 Sept 2018, a staff report on the re-zoning will be considered by planning and environment committee, starting no earlier than 7pm. This is a public participation meeting, which means that anyone can speak to the issue for up to five minutes.
The planning application would allow for the phased development that Gateway Casinos has outlined, including a 12-storey hotel on site and a reduced grandstand:
existing and new uses including casinos; race track operations; fairgrounds; hotels; and other commercial, recreational or entertainment uses
a bonus zone for increased height; and
a single parking rate (that is, how many parking spaces are required) for all permitted uses; required parking on adjacent lots.
You can learn more and download the related documents from the web page for the planning application.
Committee voted, 7-5, to approve expanded gambling in London. The vote was as follows:
|Yeas: (7)||Mayor M. Brown, J. Helmer, P. Squire, J. Morgan, V. Ridley, S. Turner, and T. Park|
|Nays: (5)||M. van Holst, B. Armstrong, P. Hubert, A. Hopkins, and H. Usher|
This approval is not specific to the Western Fair site, but committee indicated its preference that the casino should be located at the site of the Western Fair with a separate vote, the results of which were as follows:
Motion to approve the addition of the words "it being noted that The Corporation of the City of London prefers an expanded location at the Western Fair District;" to the end of part b).
|Yeas: (11)||Mayor M. Brown, M. van Holst, B. Armstrong, J. Helmer, P. Squire, J. Morgan, P. Hubert, A. Hopkins, V. Ridley, H. Usher, and T. Park|
|Nays: (1)||S. Turner|
I moved a motion to ask city staff to report back on how we could allocate some of the increased revenues from expanded gambling to prevent, reduce or mitigate the harms from expanded gambling. The vote was as follows:
Motion to approve the following part c)
c) the Civic Administration BE DIRECTED to report back on how some or all of the incremental revenues from expanded gaming, paid to The Corporation of the City of London according to the contribution agreement with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, could be allocated to prevent, reduce or mitigate harms in the Zone SW 4 bundle from problem gambling, including fostering a partnership between the local community and the gaming operator;
|Yeas: (11)||Mayor M. Brown, M. van Holst, B. Armstrong, J. Helmer, J. Morgan, P. Hubert, A. Hopkins, V. Ridley, S. Turner, H. Usher, and T. Park|
|Nays: (1)||P. Squire|
You can watch the video from the public participation meeting and the debate on Youtube or on the city's website. The minutes of the meeting are also available.
I will be posting more information on this page as it becomes available. Please post your questions in the feedback box below (post "keep me updated") to be adding to the list for notifications when more info becomes available.
Now that expanded gambling has been approved by the municipal council, the next step is up to Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd.
There is a planning application, initiated by the City of London and Western Fair, that will be considered by planning and environment committee.
- Politicians endorse expanded gambling in London, London Free Press, 24 April 2018
- Casino cuts jobs with expansion plans stalled, London Free Press, 12 April 2018
- Casino expansion must play with citizens, London Free Press, 24 Jan 2018
- London City Hall: politicians want public input, business case, before they're willing to deal with casino operator, London Free Press, 11 Dec 2017
- New casino touts family friendly buildings, spaces, London Free Press, 6 Dec 2017
- Harness racing's future in doubt as London casino battle brews, London Free Press, 11 Nov 2017
- Gateway Casinos & Entertainment: Western Fair's $6-million lease 'not viable,' private firm argues, London Free Press, 6 Nov 2017
- London casino: A full-blown casino planned in London has triggered barely a whimper, unlike the public uproar over a small slots lounge 20 years ago, London Free Press, 7 Jun 2017
- Western Fair District: The boss at Southwestern Ontario's largest convention hotel says a proposed hotel at a proposed London casino would hurt the industry, London Free Press, 6 Jun 2017
- Gambling: OLG's new operator in London and region promises $200-million improvement, London Free Press, 9 May 2017
- Blackburn News, 9 May 2017
- Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Limited to operate Western Fair slots and five other regional gaming centres, London Free Press, 13 Dec 2016
- Staff report on zoning amendment, 24 Sept 2018
- Notice of community information meeting, 30 Aug 2018
- Notice of planning application, Aug 2018
- Public participation meeting, YouTube, Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, 23 April 2018
- Staff report on public engagement re: casino expansion, Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, 23 Apr 2018
- Staff report on public engagement re: casino expansion, Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, 29 Jan 2018
- Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation questions and answers, Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, 29 Jan 2018
- Gateway Casinos presentation to Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, YouTube, Dec 2017 (~70 mins)
- OLG presentation to Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee, YouTube, Dec 2017 (~40 mins)