Gambling debate a done deal? Don’t bet on it

Hard Rock International officially took over the gambling operations at the Rideau Carleton Raceway this week.

This was completely expected, since the entertainment conglomerate announced in May it would be partnering with the raceway to run the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) slots there, as well as eventually build a hotel and new casino and potentially invest $320 million in the complex.

Hard Rock was also expected to bring in 21 gaming tables, an addition approved by the previous council in 2011, although the tables were never actually installed.

There was just one final hurdle — one that became the main event at Wednesday’s council meeting, even though city staff, Mayor Jim Watson, and a number of councillors considered it a mere technicality.

And although Hard Rock’s takeover passed easily in a 19-to-four vote — with Diane Deans, Jeff Leiper, Catherine McKenney and Tobi Nussbaum voting against — it did revive arguments surrounding gaming in Ottawa, and hinted at debates to come.

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