Last week, it surfaced that the new operator of the Rideau Carleton Raceway, known to be Hard Rock International, is trying to expand the number of its gambling tables from the city-imposed limit of 21 to 35. The operator asked the Committee of Adjustment for permission and circumvented the city councilor. In a memo to the council, the city’s solicitor explained that the expansion is considered as a minor divergence from the country’s land use laws. This means that it is under the jurisdiction of a minor committee such as the Committee of Adjustment.
Earlier this year, Hard Rock International assumed the control over the day-to-day operations of Rideau Carleton Raceway, located in South Ottawa. Ontario Lottery Gaming Corp. (OLG) selected Hard Rock International as the preferred operator to modernize the struggling Ottawa horse racing and gambling facility. As a result, the operator crafted an expansion project, which is expected to turn the worn-out Rideau Carleton Raceway into a full-fledged entertainment complex.
A Minor Divergence Case or an Attempt to Skirt the Rules
The casino operator would have to abide by the existing land use laws, which put a cap on the number of gaming tables and slot machines. Under these rules, the casino operator is allowed to install no more than 21 gaming tables and up to 1,250 slot machines. But last week, it was revealed that the operator is trying to boost the number of the allowed gaming tables, seeking for permission from the Committee of Adjustment, a low-profile judicial body that deals with minor changes to zoning rules.
This triggered a wave of massive discontent among the officials. Councilor Diane Deans even commented that this is a “sneaky maneuver”, which aims at bypassing the city council. The Hard Rock Casino, on the other hand, responded to the attacks by explaining that the operator believes that the proposed change is insignificant and that is the reason why it deemed it appropriate to file its application to the city’s Committee of Adjustment.
According to the latest updates, city officials agreed to appoint the case to the smaller low-profile city committee, which is to discuss the increase in the table games number. In a memo addressed to the city council, the city’s solicitor Rick O’Connor explained that the proposed changes are considered as a minor divergence from the country’s zoning rules. In that sense, the issue falls under the jurisdiction of the minor committee and it cannot be a subject of a broader debate at the city council. Mr. O’Connor added that the committee is not allowed to refuse to hear the case. He underlined the fact that the Committee of Adjustment is appointed by the council, and the low-profile judicial body is to step warily regarding any possible submissions.