Ontario Government Approves Plan for Toronto Casino as Part of Overall Plans to Modernize Gambling

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OLG chair Paul Godfrey proposed ways to restructure the Ontario Lottery and Gaming commission and improves how lottery and gaming are delivered in Ontario.  The reforms are outlined in a report entitled Modernizing Lottery and Gaming in Ontario and would create some 2,300 net new industry jobs and about 4,000 jobs in the service sector, according to OLG’s projections.

“Doing nothing is simply not an option,” OLG chair Paul Godfrey said Monday. “Doing nothing means our contribution to the province will continue to erode, potentially by hundreds of millions of dollars per year.”

Ontario has the second-lowest net profit per adult in the gambling industry among all the provinces, the report notes, while offshore gambling websites have siphoned off about $400 million from residents. Profits from gaming sites near the Canada-U.S. border, meanwhile, have plunged to about $100 million last year from $800 million in 2001.

If no action is taken, OLG anticipates it will have to spend $1 billion in public capital just to update its current services whereas the modernization strategy could draw billions of dollars in new private capital investment.

OLG contributes between $1.7 and $2 billion a year to the Ontario government to support areas such as health and education. Provincial Finance Minister Dwight Duncan says there is an urgent need to maximize the corporation’s value.

The OLG plans to introduce multi-lane lottery sales at large retail outlets such as supermarkets  and superstores (currently you have to buy your lottery tickets at a single lane), identify distinct zones where existing or new gaming sites would be permitted, expand slot facilities beyond horse racing tracks, offer internet gambling and boost research and treatment support for problem gambling.

“This new revenue will help us balance the budget,” provincial Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who backs the plan, said Monday. The new Toronto casino would is expected to bring in about 40% of the $1.3-billion to the $2-billion in new revenues over five years.

The Toronto casino would still require local approval and a location has not been determined though the province-owned Ontario Place and city-owned Exhibition Place have been mentioned.

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