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Toronto Council Vetoes New Casino After Mayor Plan Change

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Toronto City Council voted against new gaming sites in Canada’s biggest city after Mayor Rob Ford today withdrew his support for a plan to build one in a downtown location.

Ford, who this month was forced to defend himself after allegedly being filmed taking drugs, today proposed a plan to explore the construction of a casino on the city’s outskirts. That motion was defeated in favor of one opposing the establishment of new gambling operations and a second vetoing the expansion of existing gaming locations in the city.

Toronto was considered a potentially lucrative market for U.S. casino operators hungry for expansion after the province of Ontario announced plans to expand the gambling industry last year. Among those who unveiled casino proposals or met with Ford were Caesars Entertainment Corp., Las Vegas Sands Corp. and MGM Resorts International.

“People in Toronto have been speaking out for 12 months now, and they’ve been saying quite clearly they don’t want a casino in Toronto,” said Mike Layton, the councilor who proposed a ban on a new casino. “It’s a big victory for the citizens that got involved in this fight.”

Ford told the council that the casino deal offered by the Ontario government didn’t provide enough revenue for the city.

“Hosting a casino in Toronto that does little to address Toronto’s financial needs and simply makes the provincial government richer is not in the best interest of Toronto,” Ford said today. “The province wants money for nothing.”

Financial Needs

During his remarks to the council today, Ford didn’t address allegations he had been caught on video smoking crack cocaine. George Christopoulos, his spokesman, didn’t respond to calls seeking comment on the casino vote or the alleged drug use.

After the Toronto Star reported that two of its reporters watched a video allegedly showing Ford inhaling from a crack-cocaine pipe, Ford said May 17 that the allegations were “ridiculous.”

The video allegedly shows Ford sitting on a chair in a room, wearing a white shirt with the top buttons open, and inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe, the Star reported. Bloomberg hasn’t seen the video and can’t verify its authenticity.

Ford has said the Toronto Star story is another example of the newspaper “going after me.”

Toronto Police say they are reviewing the allegations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ari Altstedter in Toronto at aaltstedter@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Cinko at cinko@bloomberg.net

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