Take next step on casino

Despite assurances from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation that no decision has to be made on the casino file until the end of the calendar year, a vote on whether to pursue the project further or get out of the game is on the agenda for Tuesday night’s city council meeting. City staff have recommended that council vote in favour of continuing the discussion.

Read more

A boon or a bust? Readers are divided

A casino in Hamilton, preferably downtown, must be seriously considered and vigorously pursued. The key to success and resuscitating Hamilton is getting people downtown — to live, to work, to shop and to play. To do this, the downtown must attract people.

A casino in downtown Hamilton will create a myriad of good paying jobs during the construction and/or renovation phase. Resulting from this will be a substantial net increase in the number of good paying jobs (i.e. people) who will work downtown. Like the automobile industry, it is not just the plant workers but the support industries that benefit from the presence of the manufacturing plant.

Read more

Council urged to bet on casino

Casino decision day could be this Tuesday – or maybe not.

A city staff report is recommending that councillors consider voting “in principle” to bring a casino to Kingston and move on to the next stage of a process begun by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Read more

Kingston’s casino myth

If the casino vote is called on Tuesday night, you can be sure city councillors will have an enduring tape loop playing in their heads: “Don’t blow it this time.”

In other words, you have a shot at easy money – casino revenues of about $3 million a year – and this time Kingston must take the plunge.

Read more

Councillors getting a line on public’s opinion

Councillors Jason Farr and Terry Whitehead are reaching out to residents for their take on a downtown casino.

The downtown and Mountain-area councillors have both conducted automated phone polls asking residents if they support the idea. They also asked residents whether they support a gaming facility in Hamilton at all.

Read more

OLG and host municipalities working to build stronger communities

OLG is proud of the support it provides to local economies in its 24 host municipalities across Ontario. In 2011-12 alone, host municipalities received more than $110 million in funds.

To hear what Mayors are saying about their community’s partnership with OLG, visit the video section of this site.

Over the years, host municipalities have used revenue from OLG facilities to build infrastructure, invest in culture and create local jobs.

In Ajax, the town used approximately $7.4 million in contributions from OLG Slots at Ajax Downs to help build a new state-of-the-art, LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Operations Centre.

Mayor Steve Parish says that, for the people of Ajax, the partnership with OLG, “gets right to the bottom line of the financial viability of our municipality and the quality of life in our municipality. So, it’s been a win-win for us and a real positive.”

Since OLG Slots at Ajax Downs opened in 2006, the town has received more than $31 million from slot revenues.

In Innisfil, funds from OLG Slots at Georgian Downs were used by the Town to help build a $40 million recreation complex, in addition to other capital projects.

“We’ve also been able to build the town hall…some library branches have been fast-tracked, as have some fire halls,” says Mayor Barb Baguley.

Since OLG Slots at Georgian Downs opened, Innisfil has received more than $45 million from slot revenues.

The Town of Hanover has used revenue it has received to invest in local culture.

“We really like to support culture in our town,” says Mayor Kathi Maskell, “so we renovated our century-old theatre – even used the money for new drapes, new seats, new air conditioning, and so on.”

Through its “Modernizing Lottery and Gaming in Ontario” plan, OLG is taking steps to ensure the lottery and gaming industry in Ontario is sustainable and will continue to provide support to the Province and Ontario communities for future generations.

The big bet: What’s to gain and what’s to lose

As the debate over a casino ramps up, gaming experts and researchers say the factors that Hamilton should consider for decision-making are pretty clear cut.

Bill Rutsey, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, and Dr. Robert Williams, one of Canada’s pre-eminent researchers on the social impact of gambling, agree there’s a major ripple effect when a casino is approved. But they represent opposing perspectives on whether gaming brings benefits, or generates problems the city might not want to face.

Read more

Why on earth would Hamilton not want a casino downtown?

Like many Hamiltonians, I am a casual gambler.

How do I define a “casual gambler?” Occasional poker games with friends at each others’ houses where the stakes are moderate and the laughter is excessive would be one part of it. Another might include dinner followed by visits to one of Niagara’s casinos for a monthly (more or less) contribution to the one-eyed bandits or blackjack tables. A third, much rarer, part of the definition might include a trip to Las Vegas or as I did just recently, to Lake Tahoe, Nev., also a gambling destination. (This was my first visit to spectacular Tahoe and I’ve only been to Vegas three times, once for a wedding, so these trips are infrequent indeed.)

Read more

Council appoints casino subcommittee

Councillors have named the members of a new subcommittee that will handle the thorny issue of a new casino.

Mayor Bob Bratina — who suggested the subcommittee — along with councillors Terry Whitehead, Robert Pasuta, Judi Partridge and Sam Merulla will be charged with determining what a casino in Hamilton should look like.

Read more

The players in the casino debate

The debate about whether Hamilton should open a new casino downtown has gripped city hall. Proposals and motions abound as councillors grapple with whether the city should open the door to a new gambling facility.

Here are the key players to watch as the city nears a conclusion.

Read more

City committee signals interest in new casino

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said he’ll ask city council to signal interest in a new gaming facility, a move that would allow the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to seek proposals from potential operators.

Watson, who made the announcement through Twitter, said OLG has not proposed or short-listed a location and said council holds final approval on zoning, which would come after the request-for-proposals process.

Read more

Watson backs casino for Ottawa

Mayor Jim Watson is backing a new casino for Ottawa, on the condition that the money it generates for the city be spent on infrastructure projects and economic development.

Watson has previously made positive noises about the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s desire to expand beyond its slot machines at the Rideau Carleton Raceway in the south end, but took to Twitter Monday afternoon to make his support explicit.
Read more

Watson signals interest in Ottawa casino

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said he’ll ask city council to signal interest in a new gaming facility, a move that would allow the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to seek proposals from potential operators.

Watson, who made the announcement through Twitter, said OLG has not proposed or short-listed a location and said council holds final approval on zoning, which would come after the request-for-proposals process.

Read more

‘One shot’ only for Toronto casino

Toronto will lose out on a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity if it rejects building a new casino and entertainment complex in the city core, OLG chair Paul Godfrey warned Friday.

His pitch to the Toronto Board of Trade comes three weeks before East York holds a public forum about the possibility of a downtown casino, and two months before the city’s executive committee debates the issue, which has generated stiff opposition among some residents and councillors.

Read more

Vaughan debates pros, cons of casino

A simple survey showing that more than half of Vaughan residents polled would be in favour of building a casino at the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre (VMC) was enough to set the crowd off at a recent information session.

Before that point, participants from the community had been orderly and calm. But when the floodgates opened, there was no holding back the crowd, many of whom saw the presentation as a marketing tool designed to persuade them on the merits of locating a casino in Vaughan.

Read more

OLG Counting on ‘Fairness Czar’

Coulter Osborne, a retired judge and formerly Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner, has a new job keeping the province’s casino expansion on the straight and narrow.

He has been appointed as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s first-ever “independent fairness advisor,” charged with overseeing the procurement process that will mean a dramatic expansion of casinos across the province, including in the Greater Toronto Area.

“I call him the fairness czar,” Rod Phillips, president and chief executive of OLG, said in an interview.

“We want the process to unfold in a way that is fair and transparent and gets the outcomes that the province wants.”

“I don’t claim any particular knowledge of the industry itself,” Osborne told QP Briefing. “I come at it from the outside, in.

“The procurement process is going to be ongoing for some time. Part of the exercise is to ensure that the entire process is fair and no potential proponent or actual proponent is disadvantaged by the RFP (Request For Proposals) when it gets issued or by any aspect of the over all process.”

Osborne, 78, was formerly a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal and Associate Chief Justice of Ontario.

In retirement Osborne has been as busy as ever. He has done work for all levels of government, having looked over the procurement process at Union Station for the City of Toronto and school transportation procurement and civil justice review for the Ontario government.

He also arbitrated a dispute between Canada Post and the Canadian Postal Workers for the federal government.

Osborne said he is proud that virtually all of his recommendations arising from his civil justice review were adopted by the government.

But he does have one regret.

“My mandate did not include family law, which is a very important,” he said. “I think it deserves a look but that is a political decision that will have to be made.”

Being a “go-to guy” isn’t a term he applies to himself but Osborne does not disagree with it.

“It has turned out that way but it wasn’t as a result of any great planning on my part. It just happened,”  he said. “So it turned out I am reasonably busy.”

Osborne is from Hamilton but practised law in Kitchener before his appointment to the bench in 1978.

His legal career was met with a diversion at the outset.

Osborne was a member of the 1956 Canadian Olympic basketball team, playing guard.

He missed most of the first term of his second year in law school training in Vancouver and then attending the Olympics in Melbourne. He kept up with class as best he could, cracking his law books at night and getting lecture notes mailed to him by classmates.

“It was an important diversion in my life, at least temporarily.”

Canada did not win a medal in 1956. In fact there has been a medal drought since Canada’s only men’s basketball medal, a silver, in 1936. But Osborne is hopeful that NBA great Steve Nash, as the new general manager of the Canada’s national basketball team, will turn things around.

Is it possible his next assignment could be giving some basketball advice? Not likely, Osborne said.

“Steve probably needs some help but he seems to have been successful in getting the good players to commit to the program, which has been a problem in the past.”

After the Olympics, Osborne’s basketball activities have been limited to coaching kids and playing on a YMCA team.

“The last time I had a basketball in my hands was probably shooting hoops in the driveway with my grandson or granddaughter, which would be a few years ago now since they are both in university.”

As the OLG’s fairness advisor, Osborne has been busy familiarizing himself with the OLG as an organization and with the corporation’s casino expansion plans.

He has already reviewed its Request For Information process. Next up will be the Request for Proposals process that will lead to the selection of operators for the new casinos.

“People are much more alert to the concerns about making things fair and above board and transparent. I think there is a greater awareness than there was say 10 years ago.”

He is also available to advise OLG board members and staff about possible conflicts of interest.

“Who should pick up the tab for lunch or should there even be a lunch?” Osborne said.

“I hope it ensures that the process is as transparent and fair and that it makes sense in the final analysis. That’s the idea anyway.”

City has until year’s end

City councillors will not have to make a decision on bringing a casino to town before the end of the year, according to the top official at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

CEO and president Rod Phil­lips told Mayor Mark Gerretsen that his organization would also supply Kingston with the projected possible proceeds from a casino in the next two weeks.

Read more

City says yes to casino

North Bay politicians have voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing a casino in the city.

After months of public debate surrounding the affect of increased gambling on the community, council members showed their cards Monday, voting 10-1 in support of working with a private operator and Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) to bring a gaming facility to North Bay.

Read more

Proceed with casino process: staff

City staff is recommending council move ahead to bring a casino to North Bay, but with a lengthy list of conditions.

“There are far more questions than there are answers,” said North Bay CAO Jerry Knox during Monday night’s Council committee meeting, “and the lack of consultation with the province is disturbing.”

Read more

Casino may take awhile

It could be a year or two before the betting begins in North Bay if council votes Monday in favour of allowing a casino in the city.

Odds are municipal politicians will be saying yes to the possibility of a gaming facility, which means Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) can officially start looking for private-sector proponents wanting to build and operate it.

Read more

Communities Line Up For Casinos

Plans to expand casino gambling is on track with communities across the province lining up to host a new casino, says the head of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

“In general there has been a very favourable response,” OLG president and chief executive Rod Phillips said in an interview.

“This is not to say there are not public meetings and discussion, and any time you’re talking about gaming you’re going to have both sides of the argument.”

OLG has divided the province into 29 gaming zones, only five of which have not previously had an OLG facility.

There is no requirement for a referendum in those five zones.

Regulation 81/12 under the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act, 1999, requires only that the municipal council pass a resolution that shows support and demonstrates that it sought public input before the resolution.

“Nobody has to have a referendum because there is no requirement for a referendum,” Phillips said.

“Every time you have this conversation it is an emotional issue, and there is going to be both sides of these conversations.”

So far 32 communities have indicated support for a casino, either by hosting a gaming facility in the past or by passing a fresh resolution. More communities are expected to follow suit.

Toronto is still a question mark but the process is moving forward with a report scheduled to go to the City of Toronto’s executive committee in November.

“They will begin that discussion and council will decide what they want to do and if it makes sense for them,” Phillips said.

“It is clear a downtown facility in Canada’s largest city, and in one of North America’s largest city, would be a great entertainment offering and could be a great value creator for the city, the province and the citizens of Toronto.”

However, the zone that includes Toronto also includes Mississauga, Richmond Hill and Markham, and Vaughan is seeking to be included in the Toronto zone. So it seems all but certain a new casino will located somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area.

The OLG is still working through the Request for Information process that was issued earlier this year. A Request For Qualifications process will be launched later this year followed by a Request for Proposals sometime next year. That process will lead to the selection of the operators within a particular zone.

Here is a list of municipalities that are clearly in support of hosting a casino as of Sept 14, 2012:

Support from existing host municipalities (20 that already benefit from the slot revenue)

1.    Ajax

2.    Brantford

3.    Cavan-Monaghan (Kawartha)

4.    Central Huron (Clinton)

5.    Centre-Wellington (Grand River)

6.    Chatham-Kent (Dresden)

7.    Gananoque (Thousand Islands)

8.    Leeds and the Thousand Islands

9.    Hamilton (Flamboro)

10.    Hanover

11.    Innisfil (Georgian)

12.    London (Western Fair)

13.    Milton (Mohawk)

14.    Ottawa (Rideau)

15.    Point Edward

16.    Sault Ste. Marie

17.    Sudbury

18.    Thunder Bay

19.    Toronto (Woodbine)

20.    Woodstock

Support from other municipalities identified in a zone:

21.    Whitby

22.    Halton Hills

23.    Woolwich

24.    St. Thomas

25.    Belleville

26.    Quinte West

27.    Clarence-Rockland

Support from municipalities not identified in a zone but seeking to be included:

28.    Town of Midland

29.    Elliot Lake

30.    Timmins

31.    South Stormont

32.    Cornwall

The list includes all communities with an existing OLG facility plus some that don’t yet have one and some that want one but are not in a zone. The 29 zones cover more than one municipality so the number of communities eligible to host a casino is higher than 29 and will grow over time.

Not included on this list are Niagara Falls and Windsor as those sites are not part of the RFP process because the OLG has already has multi-year contracts with the operators of the casinos there.

Whitby bets big on being new casino host

What’s a bid for a gaming facility in Whitby without an element of risk?

That could be the question Whitby residents are asking after Town officials spurned an offer from neighbouring Ajax for 15 per cent of existing gaming revenue from its established slots facility and chose instead to go all in on a bid to be the sole host for a new provincial casino in Whitby.

Read more

Promoting Responsible Gambling Awareness

As part of OLG’s robust and innovative Responsible Gambling program, OLG is launching the third annual “It Pays to Know” kiosk promotion. Interactive kiosks will be set up in gaming sites across the province where players learn about how our games work and are encouraged to use smart play habits.

The program features a Responsible Gambling trivia game where all participants, regardless of their scores, are entered into a draw to win a grand prize ($500 Home & Leisure gift card) at each gaming site. This year’s promotion will run from September until January.

The results from last year’s campaign were very strong with positive feedback from consumers and participants. Over the 88 days of the promotion, more than 46,000 players completed the touch screen experience.

OLG has been recognized by the World Lottery Association with the highest level of certification for excellence in its Responsible Gambling programs. As the province’s lottery and gaming industry transforms through modernization, OLG will continue to apply greater focus on the prevention and mitigation of problem gambling including educating players, encouraging healthy play habits and supporting problem gamblers.

Speaking at the Ontario Problem Gambling Research AGM on September 5, 2012, Rod Phillips, President and CEO reiterated OLG’s commitment to Responsible Gambling in the future OLG.

“We must continue to build Responsible Gambling into culture,” said Phillips. “We will include comprehensive Responsible Gambling details in our contracts with future service providers and we will ensure that they deliver against those requirements.”

As outlined in “Modernizing Lottery and Gaming in Ontario”, OLG will direct and require operators of lottery channels and gaming sites to exceed regulatory compliance standards. OLG will provide operators with strategic and tactical support, performance evaluations, incentives and plans for improvement.

Council rolls the dice on gaming facility

Kenora is at a crossroads as city council ponders its response and responsibilities to an invitation by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission to become a host community for a new gaming facility. The municipality is eligible to receive one of five new casino licenses that will bring the total number of communities with gaming facilities up to 29 province-wide.

Read more

Casino impacts presented at public consultation meeting

Kenora council has already identified concerns residents have with a proposed casino, two including policing and the social ramifications.

In addition to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLGC) presentation, Kenora OPP Inspector Dave Lucas provided a overview of the potential increase in criminal activity relating to casinos operations based on the experience of other police services in cities with a casino, primarily Thunder Bay, and Sheila Toderian, from the ASK Gambling program, outlined concerns with problem gambling

Read more

Casino Deadline Approaching

It’s crunch time in the process to consider a 300 slot casino for the area.

At a special Committee of the Whole meeting in Wasaga Beach on Tuesday night, councillors discussed moving forward.

But the deadline to apply to OLG for consideration is the end of October.

Read more

The golden age of gambling

You’d have to be pretty humourless not to quirk a smile at Dwight Duncan’s sly dig at Andrea Horwath in the legislature the other day.

The leader of the New Democrats and MPP for Hamilton Centre had just called on Premier Dalton McGuinty to direct the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation to stop meeting with city officials until Hamiltonians hold a referendum to decide whether they want a casino.

Read more

Ottawans against more casinos

A new poll from Ottawa’s largest horse racing association shows the majority of residents want to support the horse racing industry by keeping slots at the Rideau Carleton Raceway.

The survey, commissioned last Thursday by the National Capital Region Harness Horse Association, also shows 61% of Ottawans want to see more gaming options at race tracks, including gaming tables like roulette, blackjack and poker.

Read more

Hold the dice on casino talks

Hamilton’s casino debate has been taken up at Queen’s Park.

NDP Leader and Hamilton Centre MPP Andrea Horwath raised the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s push to modernize its operations in Question Period Monday, encouraging the Dalton McGuinty Liberals to hold off on discussions about a new casino until the city can hold a referendum.

Read more

Staff recommends casino

City staff is recommending that council tentatively say yes to a casino.

The recommendation, which goes before municipal politicians next week for a vote, calls for an endorsement from the city for a new gaming facility in North Bay, but with some conditions.

Read more


Whitby gambles on casino

Whitby council is letting the chips fall where they may following a decision to pass on Ajax’s offer to share 15 per cent of its future casino revenues with the town.

At a special meeting on Sept. 10, members voted 6-2 in favour of snubbing the offer from Ajax and declaring Whitby a willing host for a gaming facility to be regulated by the Province of Ontario.

Read more

Casino issue going to public

Local municipalities are planning to hold a public consultation session to determine if residents support a casino locating in the Georgian Triangle.

Municipal officials, following a closed-door meeting with Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation representatives Wednesday, said they plan to hold the meeting in the near future.

Read more

Casino meeting tonight in Kenora

If you’d like to know more about a casino for Kenora, then you should be at the rec centre tonight. The information session runs from 6 until 9. Another town hall meeting is set for September 18th. That’s when residents will be allowed to voice their opinions about the idea.

Read more

OLG promotes responsible gambling

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was pleased to be in North Bay recently to provide information to City Council on our modernization plans. I would like to take this opportunity to provide your readers with facts about our responsible gambling efforts.

At OLG, responsible gambling is a central focus and a driving force behind our business.

Read more

Brantford mayor on casinos – “I was wrong.”

Eating crow is a hard thing to do. It’s especially indigestible for politicians.

But on the matter of a casino in his town, Brantford mayor Chris Friel is ready to go there. “People are well within their right to say, ‘I told you so.’ And I’d have to take it.”

Right now the province is overhauling the gambling game. It doesn’t want to run the slots and poker tables anymore, but it sure plans to be extracting a big cut from the private interests who take over.

Read more

Whitby council to vote on casino proposal Sept. 10

Now that Ajax has finalized its stance on a potential casino development in the community, Whitby council is ready to make a decision on the matter.

The Province is modernizing lottery and gaming in Ontario by establishing 29 gaming zones, including one that includes Pickering, Ajax and Whitby. Only one gaming facility is permitted in each zone. Pickering council has already turned down the proposal while Ajax council has expressed interest in expanding its existing OLG Slots facility.

Read more

Ajax playing it safe with future casino revenue

Ajax is prudently hedging its bets that 15 per cent of its future casino revenue will be enough to ensure a gaming facility stays in the town.

Since the OLG Slots at Ajax Downs opened early in 2006, the facility has provided Ajax with roughly $35 million in non-tax gaming revenue. But the OLG, as part of its modernization of gaming, is setting up private, not government-run, casinos throughout Ontario, including one in a zone which covers Ajax, Pickering and Whitby. If one of those two latter communities were to be chosen for a casino, the Ajax facility would close.

Read more

OLG to appear at city council Sept. 18 to answer casino questions

Either in the downtown or near Highway 401.

Those are the two main areas where a privately-operated gambling casino could be allowed under the city’s current Official Plan and zoning rules, according to a new report.

Councillors won’t make a final decision on whether Kingston is even interested in being a host city for a casino until October. However, an advance staff report provides some information on potential locations for a gaming facility.

Read more

AG to review casino plan

Ontario’s auditor general will review plans to scrap the Slots at Racetracks program and built urban casinos after Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod successfully carried a motion through the assembly on Aug. 30.

Members from all three political parties supported MacLeod’s private member’s motion asking for a review of Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s new gaming and casino plans that would pull slots out of racetracks and build private casinos closer to urban centres.

Read more

A casino? What’s our game plan?

There are two ways to build a city: proactively or reactively.

A proactive approach to city building must start with a clear vision: a collective agreement as to what kind of a city we want in the future. The same can be said for Hamilton, and for our downtown.

Is our downtown a creative and cultural industry destination built on a foundation of James North, the Art Gallery of Hamilton and facilities such as Hamilton Place? Is it an office district anchored by financial, legal, and other commercial service firms?

Read more

Region keeping eye on casino debate

While North Bay council has given itself a deadline to decide on whether it wants a casino or not, other area leaders are watching from the sidelines to see what happens.

“I think any project like this should be a little more regional,” said Callander mayor Hec Lavigne. “We will suffer all of the negatives without any prospect of seeing the positives it could bring.”

Read more

More nays than yeas at casino meeting

NORTH BAY– Brenda Lang is dead set against the opening of a casino in the city.

A gambling addict, Lang told North Bay Council that she had lost everything. “I lost my kids, my home, and my income was taken away. If a casino comes into town then I’ll have to move out,” she said.

Read more

Councillors to get full hand of casino information

Casinos are filled with games of chance.City staff, however, are leaving nothing to chance when it comes to providing information to councillors who will vote in October on whether to clear the way for a casino in Kingston.
Every comment written on the online survey on the city’s website will be part of the information packages going to both city councillors and to the public in the coming weeks.

Read more

OLG To Brief City Council About Possible Gaming Facility in Kingston

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, August 14th, Kingston City Council voted unanimously to gauge more public input on the possibility of the city hosting a gaming facility in Kingston. In its motion, council requested the OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation) to attend a council meeting. The OLG has now indicated they will give a briefing at the September 18th council meeting. 

Read more