Hamilton politicians disbanded the city’s gaming facility proposal subcommittee, saying the entire council needs to debate the future of a possible new casino in the downtown.
“We have a tight time frame,” said Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead. “Now we are at a point where the full council should be participating.”
The gaming subcommittee was created late last year to examine how the city could address the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s idea to place a casino in Hamilton. The subcommittee was tasked to discuss ways to engage the public on whether they want a casino. The city did recently host two public meetings in Flamborough and at city hall, and through a poll that is expected to be launched late in February.
The subcommittee did come under criticism from an anti-casino group for failing to doing its job.
The OLG has given the city until March 1 to decide whether or not it wants a gaming facility. Councillors have already backed Flamboro Downs as its location.
Meanwhile, Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla’s casino referendum motion will be debated at the Feb. 6 government issues committee. Merulla had said he wanted council to discuss his motion, which he originally proposed last September. He held off on introducing it because he wanted answers from OLG representatives if the city could hold a referendum. When OLG officials appear before council, they said it wasn’t necessary to have a referendum.
Merulla said the motion was referred to the GIC meeting because of procedural issues.
His motion requests the city to hold a referendum during the 2014 municipal election, as well as asking the new Liberal premier to postpone the OLG restructuring process until the referendum can take place. In addition, the motion will ask the province to pay the estimated $1 million cost to hold the referendum.