It seems that the Hard Rock Casino is trying to expand its gambling offerings by avoiding the political games at city hall. Hard Rock International, which acquired the operations of the Rideau Carleton Raceway about a month ago, has quietly sought a permission to add 14 new gaming tables to its offerings.
The Casino, located in South Ottawa, has applied for a permission seeking to give it the chance to boost the number of gaming tables it offers from 21 to 35, trying to fully bypass local council’s approval.
The current zoning for the land, which was officially set by city council in 2011, allows a maximum of 21 gaming tables to be offered there. The Hard Rock Casino has shared its beliefs that the increase in the table games number to a total of 35 could be considered a minor divergence to the afore-mentioned rule, so that it has filed an application with the Hard Rock Committee of Adjustment.
By doing this, the casino operator has bypassed the city council, which has always been directly involved in the casino approval process in Ottawa.
Hard Rock Tries to Bypass Council Rules
The gambling expansion of the Hard Rock Casino has faced the opposition of Councillor Diane Deans, who commented on the operator’s move, calling it a “sneaky maneuver” that circumvented the political scrutiny. The city hall has expected that problem gambling concerns associated with expanded gaming options would be taken to it by the operator at the horse track.
Ms. Deans further shared that it if an gaming expansion is made in the region, a lot of issues need to be taken into consideration, including traffic and transportation issues, as well as possible impact of the expansion on local communities and health impacts. As she explained, none of these steps were completed.
In fact, Hard Rock Casino has taken advantage of a loophole in order to take the matter to the local committee. Council is given the right to block such decisions in case that an application was on its agenda, but the decisions of the local Committee of Adjustment do not require the council’s approval. The committee is a separate body, which has the right to review and approve applications of minor variance in case that the land zoning would not be greatly changed by such a permission.
In its application filed with the Committee, Hard Rock claims that no external changes to the landscape and the building are to be made as a result of the expansion. The operator revealed that approval is sought on each one of the three phases of Hard Rock Casino Ottawa, as it announced back in May 2017. A total of 35 tables are required to complete Phase One of the project, and the operator considers an addition of 14 more tables a minor variance of the land zoning rules.