06/10/2013 07:03 EDT | Updated 08/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Toronto spent at least $370k in debate on downtown casino bid council later sunk

TORONTO - Toronto paid out more than $300,000 in consultants' fees as it studied the pros and cons of a downtown casino project ultimately sunk by city council.

A public letter by the city's top bureaucrat says $57,100 was spent in-house as staff penned a dozen reports on the casino bid, while another $313,000 went to three consulting firms.

Joe Pennachetti's letter says internal spending in the year-long debate included some $36,000 in advertising, $12,200 for translation services and $2,800 on room rentals.

But the lion's share of the money went to consultants at Ernst & Young, DPRA and Environics, who performed economic research, helped with public consultations and conducted a telephone poll on the hot-button issue.

The letter was released Monday in response to a councillor's questions on casino-related spending.

Councillors rejected a proposed downtown casino last month in an overwhelming 40-4 vote — essentially quashing any possibility of building such a project in the near future.