The president of Las Vegas Sands Corp. outlined his vision for a casino complex in Toronto, saying he would focus on bringing trade shows and conventions to the city.
“It’s not just the casino, it’s not just the hotel, it’s not just retail and dining,” Michael Leven, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands, said at the Economic Club of Canada on Monday afternoon.
“In order to keep these properties, we have to get the trade show and convention business.”
Leven said the proposed Toronto casino would be a “MICE” facility, suitable for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. While the City of Toronto is competitive when it came to attracting conventions, he argued the facilities are not. The Sands, he said, would change that.
“Company meetings will not go outside the country; they will stay here,” Leven said.
The gambling would not be the focus of the proposed complex. In other Sands properties, gaming represents less than five per cent of the physical space, Leven said.
The Economic Club was the same venue MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren used to get his company’s message out last Tuesday.
Murren said he wants to build an “integrated resort” at Exhibition Place that would include a Cirque du Soleil show and cuisine crafted by renowned local chef Mark McEwan. About 10 per cent of the total floor space would be dedicated to gambling, he said.
The city manager is set to report to council in March on public feedback on a possible casino in Toronto. Public consultations ended on Friday. Council is expected to vote on the matter in April.
Mayor Rob Ford has said he’s in favour of a casino, and would prefer to build it in the Port Lands or at Exhibition Place. Casino opponent Coun. Adam Vaughan has called for the issue to be put to a referendum in the October 2014 municipal election.
A new GTA casino is part of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s plan to revitalize the gaming industry.