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MGM CEO presents vision for casino complex in Toronto

TORONTO, Ont. – The CEO and Chairman of MGM Resorts International presented his vision for a new multifaceted casino complex in Toronto, Tuesday, just as public consultations on the subject begin to wrap up.

Jim Murren spoke to the Economic Club of Canada over lunch at the Hilton on Richmond Street, proposing a ‘destination resort’ development at Exhibition Place.

“We offer far more than just gaming. In fact, more than 60 per cent of our company-wide revenues come from non-gaming sources,” he said.”A world-class multidimensional entertainment centre with dramatic architecture, that will appeal to Torontonians and tourists alike.”

“We would build an urban destination resort, not a limited function, stand-alone box casino. We have no interest in that,” he added. “This, we believe, to be a more sustainable model that’s not vulnerable to gaming expansion in neighbouring markets.”

Murren said the actual casino would only account for about 10 per cent of the total complex. The other 90 per cent would be made up of fine restaurants overseen by celebrity chef Mark McEwan, shops, convention facilities, shopping and various types of entertainment, with exclusive contracts for certain entertainment companies, such as Cirque Du Soleil.

He said he is excited “to include the Cirque Du Soleil experience as a centrepiece of the excitement of a Toronto-integrated resort.”

He predicts the complex would bring one-million tourists and $1-billion into Toronto – $1-million of that in non-gaming activities. In addition, it would employ thousands of people, earning $60,000 per year to start.

The city manager is set to report to council in March on the public’s feedback on a possible casino within Toronto’s borders.

Public consultations as well as a survey on the subject the City of Toronto’s website will be available until Friday. Council is expected to vote on the matter in April.

In fall of 2012, Caesars Entertainment Group expressed interest in setting up a casino at a revamped Metro Convention Centre, even unveiling artist drawings of the proposal.

Mayor Rob Ford says he is in favour of a casino, preferring it to be located in the Port Lands or at Exhibition Place.