Committee recommends council approve casino

Despite dire warnings against the idea, a city council committee has recommended that Ottawa support in principle the establishment of a new, full-fledged casino in the nation’s capital.

About 200 people packed city council chambers Tuesday night to hear the pros and cons of locating a full-fledged casino in Ottawa, with warnings about increased crime and gambling addiction compete with economic benefits and more revenues for municipal coffers.

Casino conversation continues

Collingwood council has decided to consult the public on whether the town should host a casino.

Councillor Joe Gardhouse put forward a motion with several parts including identifying possible locations in town, holding a public meeting, developing a survey for public comment and then letting OLG know of the town’s intentions by the November 16th deadline

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Ottawa casino draws support, criticism from all sides

Councillors are lining up to support the idea of a casino in Ottawa, even if they aren’t sure they’ll vote for a specific proposal in the end.

Most emphasize that they haven’t made up their minds, because a meeting of city council’s finance committee Tuesday night is supposed to be about consulting the public before a vote. Nevertheless, they all have views they would have to be talked out of.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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Casino odds good

The odds are stacking up in favour of a casino in North Bay.

A couple of city politicians are still skeptical, but it looks increasingly likely council will approve of a gaming facility in the city.

Some members are clearly stating they’re behind Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s bid to bring a private-sector casino operator to the city, while several others are saying they’re inclined at this point to support the concept, but haven’t yet made up their minds.

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Ajax offers Whitby 15 per cent of OLG Slots revenue

Whitby council to discuss proposal Sept. 10

AJAX — Ajax council has offered to share 15 per cent of its future revenue from OLG Slots at Ajax Downs with the Town of Whitby.

The decision was made unanimously during a special council meeting Friday, Aug. 24, and is contingent on Whitby declaring it is not a willing host for an OLG gaming facility.

As part of OLG’s efforts to modernize gaming in Ontario, it is looking to establish privately-operated casinos in 29 zones in Ontario, one of which covers the Ajax, Pickering and Whitby area.

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Las Vegas gambling mogul visits Rob Ford to lobby for casino

In the latest sign of the high-rollers’ interest in a Toronto casino, Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire gambling magnate and Republican megadonor, has paid a personal visit to Mayor Rob Ford.

Mr. Adelson, 79, is the chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., one of at least three Nevada-based gambling empires that have expressed interest since the province announced plans to open a casino in the Greater Toronto Area.

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Carpenter builds case for casino staying put

Ward 4 Coun. Richard Carpenter wants Brantford to be on record as wanting to keep the OLG Casino at its current location.

Carpenter presented a resolution at Monday’s operations and administration committee asking the province to keep the casino at its present location at the intersection of Market Street and Icomm Drive at the southern edge of the downtown.

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Council divided over downtown casino

City councillors are united about one thing when it comes to the future of gambling in Hamilton: Flamboro Downs comes first.

But they’re divided about whether a downtown casino is a good idea.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced a massive “modernization” earlier this year that includes plans for one casino in the Hamilton/Burlington area. It’s still not clear whether that means Flamboro Downs will remain open — council’s preference — or whether a new facility will be built.

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Full house expected at casino meeting

All of the players involved in the North Bay casino debate are expected to lay their cards on the table Wednesday during a public meeting at city hall.

The meeting, which starts at 6 p.m., is aimed at gauging public opinion and helping council decide if it should say yes to a potential casino development.

“We want to hear from anybody who wants to express an opinion for or against,” said Coun. Dave Mendicino, chairman of community services.

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Slots cuts to create jobs, study says

An Ontario government report says that redirecting $345 million from the Slots at Racetrack program will create up to 6,700 health and education jobs.

The confidential report is dated March 14 – two days after the decision to end the slots program – and was prepared by Ontario’s Ministry of Finance. It was obtained by a citizen’s freedom of information request and being shared across the province.

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No rush, no problem, says OLG

Kingston’s go-slow approach to casino gambling isn’t fazing the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Officials with the provincial regulator say they would accept an offer to brief city councillors and appear at a public meeting in Kingston to explain the new direction for privatized casinos.

“We appreciate there are municipalities that may desire to have more time,” said OLG spokesman Don Pister.

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Council, time to lead

There’s certainly no shortage of opportunity for citizens of Kingston to offer their opinions on whether or not the city should try to land a major casino development. City council has hosted a special public meeting. The city is inviting public opinion via a survey on its website, by telephone, by email and by regular post, and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is being asked to hold its own public meeting to ensure Kingstonians understand the process the city is undergoing. There’s certainly been no shortage of opinion in the letters received by this newspaper.

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Mercantis in talks about casino in core

The Mercanti family is talking to gaming operators about the possibility of opening a casino in downtown Hamilton.

Peter Mercanti, owner and operator of Carmen’s banquet centre and adjoining hotel on the east Mountain, says nothing has been decided about a partnership but the family is open to discussions.

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Casino idea works for TEDC

In May of this year, the mayor and council approved a resolution that laid the foundation for a program that would add a casino to the list of tourist attractions within the City of Timmins.

The Timmins Economic Development Corporation has taken the helm in the pursuit of continued tourist expansion within the city, spearheading the initiative to bring recreational gambling to Timmins.

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Real casino work should start now

Now that the city has definitely cast the die in favour of a casino coming to Belleville, council should not sit back and simply wait for the money to roll in.

It still has work to do. Important work.

Council so far has done the best it can in the face of crazy deadlines from Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, including providing an avenue for the public to have its say.

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Council supports gaming in CK… anywhere

Chatham-Kent council has officially stated its willingness to host a slots/gaming facility within the municipality, but at the August 13 council meeting, stopped short of endorsing Dresden as a potential location.

Coun. Doug Sulman introduced the motion in order to meet criteria outlined by the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Association (OLG) requesting that municipalities declare their willingness to host a facility by September.

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Community group calls for casino referendum

A community group is circulating an online petition to ask for a referendum on whether a new casino should be built in Ottawa.

In March the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. signalled its intention to solicit bids for new casinos across the province, including Ottawa.

While there are no concrete plans for a new casino in Ottawa, Friends of Downtown Ottawa want to give residents a say before any concrete proposal or venue is decided.

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St.Thomas wants casino

Gambling on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s interest in the municipality, St. Thomas council has directed staff to prepare a letter to the crown corporation letting them know St. Thomas is “open for business” for a casino.

“I’m hoping for support on this because it’s going to be an opportunity to send a very clear and loud message that the city of St. Thomas is open for business,” finance and administration chairwoman Lori Baldwin-Sands said.

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City gambles on OLG

Viva St. Thomas!

Gambling on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s interest in the municipality, St. Thomas council has directed staff to prepare a letter to the crown corporation letting them know St. Thomas is “open for business” for a casino.

“I’m hoping for support on this because it’s going to be an opportunity to send a very clear and loud message that the city of St. Thomas is open for business,” finance and administration chairwoman Lori Baldwin-Sands said.

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Consult residents on casino: Ward 4 rep

The City of Greater Sudbury would welcome a new casino development with open arms, council decided Tuesday.

However, several councillors expressed reservations about what a casino would do to Sudbury Downs and local farmers, and said Sudburians should be consulted before the provincial government moves ahead.

Ward 4 Coun. Evelyn Dutrisac said she was angry at the provincial government for moving revenue opportunities away from rural areas.

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Report recommends $69-million waterfront development

SAULT STE. MARIE – City council will keep holding on to a report that recommends a $69-million public/private development at its waterfront ‘Gateway’ site, as it waits to see what happens with the casino and former St. Marys Paper site.

Jerry Dolcetti, the city’s commissioner of engineering and planning, said in a report to council Monday that the province’s ‘modernization’ plans for OLG Casino Sault Ste. Marie, and the redevelopment of the St. Marys Paper site – both of which abut the Gateway site – could mean “endless,” opportunity for mixed land use within the city’s riverfront zone.

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Casino developers, operators lining up

A growing group of potential developers and operators for a proposed Belleville casino are already placing early bets on the project.

The contentious gambling complex has already attracted interest from at least four potential operators with prior history in the casino business and five developers who own property here, city officials say.

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Real casino work should start now

Now that the city has definitely cast the die in favour of a casino coming to Belleville, council should not sit back and simply wait for the money to roll in.

It still has work to do. Important work.

Council so far has done the best it can in the face of crazy deadlines from Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, including providing an avenue for the public to have its say.

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Hamilton councillors double down on Flamborough

Councillors have become increasing concerned that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation are will be seeking bids from potential suitors to establish another gaming facility in the city, or even outside the municipality’s borders. Losing the gaming facility could mean the elimination of $4.4 million the city currently receives from the cut in the slot revenues it receives from Flamboro Downs as a host municipality.

“It opens a can of worms,” said Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla. “It’s a political mess. (OLG) is like a bull in a china shop.”

The city uses the $4.4 million slot revenues to reduce property taxes. From 2000-2011, Hamilton has received about $49 million in revenue from Flamboro Downs. The province has not stated if it will compensate municipalities for the loss of the revenue.

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Majority of speakers support casino

All except one councillor voted in favour of staying the course to meet the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporations fall deadline for site proposals.

Council also received positive news from Chief Cory McMullen who suggested feedback from several other chiefs in casino-hosting communities indicate having a casino is “not a drain on police resources.”

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Quinte West council supports casino

Councilors voted 9-3 in favour of a resolution that confirms the city’s willingness to become a host to a potential OLG gaming facility. The only councillors to vote against the motion were Terry Cassidy, Jim Harrison and Bob Wannamaker.

Even with the passing of this resolution, Mayor John Williams made it clear this in no way guarantees Quinte West will be home to a gaming facility.

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City council supports gaming in Woodstock

WOODSTOCK – City council took its first step in retaining its slots facility under the OLG’s new strategic direction.

With the province requesting current OLG host municipalities indicate their continued support in hosting OLG-supervised gaming, that’s exactly what council did Thursday.

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Potential developers express interest in The Kingsway, South End, downtown and Sudbury Downs

Developers have shown interest in building a casino in four locations in Greater Sudbury, city councillors will hear this week.

In a report prepared for the Aug. 14 meeting of city council, staff says they have been in contact with more than a dozen potential suitors for a casino, which will be built somewhere in the city under a plan announced in the spring by the province.

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Numbers appear to favour casino

The numbers are in and a small portion of Belleville has spoken — 64.5 per cent of those who participated in a city wide survey said they are not opposed to The Friendly City welcoming a casino.

Last month, city hall requested the public’s input on the issue via e-mail, phone calls and an electronic form on the city’s website.

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DIA goes all in

Downtown businesses are backing the possibility of a casino in North Bay, specifically in the city’s core.

The Downtown Improvement Area Board of Management came out Wednesday in support a gaming facility in the city, suggesting it would economically benefit businesses.

DIA chairman Bob Alger said the group consulted with other communities and business improvement associations, including those in Orillia, Thunder Bay and Niagara Falls.

He said a majority of board members agreed the positive aspects outweigh the negatives, and if there’s going to be a casino in the city, it should be located in the downtown.als is expected to be issued in the fall.

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Council interested in casino application

Kenora city council is asking for input from the public, after it was chosen as a potential site for a casino. The province has recognized the area as one of 29 zones that could potentially develop a gaming facility. Council has expressed interest in the project, noting the benefits of creating jobs, as well as increasing property tax assessments.

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POLITICS: City won’t rush casino decision

KINGSTON – Mayor Mark Gerretsen says he won’t allow council to be rushed into deciding whether to bring a casino to Kingston and is prepared to tell the province to “back off, you’re pushing too hard.”

Gerretsen said he was impressed with the 45 speakers at a public meeting on Wednesday night – many of whom noted that the decision councillors had to make next month was being rushed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

“That is an extremely good point and it might put us in a situation where we need more information,” Gerretsen told the Whig-Standard.

“I’m not going to vote in favour of this because I’m being rushed. I would suggest to council that we tell OLG we need more time, back off.”

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Communities rally in bid to save casino

EMC News – “The casino stays here!”

That was the message delivered loud and clear at a Save Our Casino rally held outside the Lou Jeffries Recreation Centre in Gananoque last Thursday, Aug. 2. Close to 200 people attended the event which aimed, in part, to counter growing fear the gaming facility could face a murky future in light of new rules set out by the provincial government earlier this year.

“This is the place for the casino. It was the place they decided it should be and it should stay here,” Gananoque mayor Erika Demchuk announced to the crowd.

Faced with a massive debt and ongoing budget deficit, the province has taken some steps to get its financial house in order. One of those steps is to turn the operation of Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) casinos over to the private sector. This opens the door to the possible establishment of facilities in neighbouring communities “namely Kingston” and resulting shutdown of the Thousand Islands Charity Casino.

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Woodstock city council set for first step in OLG process

WOODSTOCK – Questions about the future of slots have swirled through Woodstock and the rest of the province since OLG announced its new strategic direction back in March.

The topic will enter Woodstock’s council chambers for the first time Thursday.

The province has requested current OLG host municipalities, such as Woodstock, indicate their continued support in hosting gaming supervised by the OLG and committed to socially responsible gaming. Woodstock Mayor Pat Sobeski will ask councillors to continue to support gaming and continue to be a willing host municipality for gaming as it evolves.

Every indication is council will continue to support gaming in the city.

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POLITICS: High stakes in casino race

KINGSTON – Modern casinos are designed to excite their gambling clientele with the banks of winking, seductive slot machines and a friendly atmosphere.

But the announcement by the Ontario and Lottery Gaming Corporation that casino operations will be expanded – and privatized – makes the button-pushing on a two-cent slot machine pale magnificently by comparison.

There’s a whole lot of high-rolling action at stake as casino designers, builders and operators – most of them experienced U.S. companies – vie for a seat at the province’s expanding gaming table.

Consider this: Even before city councillors host a public meeting on Wednesday to gauge the level of interest in bringing a casino here, Kingston’s top development officer has had meetings with what he termed a “medium-sized” gaming company.

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Rolling The Dice

KINGSTON – About this report:

As Kingstonians embark on a public discussion over whether the city wants to host a new casino development, the Whig-Standard’s Paul Schliesmann and Danielle VandenBrink today begin a three-part examination of what this would mean to the city. In the days to come in the Whig and on thewhig.com, they’ll look at what sort of operation might set up shop in the Limestone City, the social issues it might raise, and the economic spinoffs its proponents vow will make it all worthwhile.

Will Kingston city council reverse decades of anti-gambling votes and roll the dice in favour of a casino?

Councillors are about to become immersed in an intense debate on two fronts to determine the economic and social implications of approving what will likely be a privately owned, glitzy, Vegas-style gambling operation.

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Whitby businesses raise the stakes in casino debate

Chamber of Commerce wants council to vote in favour of gaming facility at Aug. 14 meeting

WHITBY — Five million dollars in annual revenue and more than 300 jobs should be welcome additions to any community.

But the Whitby Chamber of Commerce believes Whitby council is gambling with the town’s economic future while sitting on the fence regarding the development of a casino.

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Sherring: Economic benefits to casino

The almighty dollar appears to be the driving force behind Mayor Jim Watson’s interest in Ottawa pursuing a major downtown casino.

“We may have an opportunity to see if we can keep more gaming revenue in Ottawa and Ontario.

“On any given month, literally millions of dollars from Ontario residents is staying in Quebec and that doesn’t help our city, or hospitals or schools. If we have an opportunity to repatriate some of that money, we should have a serious discussion with the province,” Watson said, responding to a resident unhappy with the prospect of a casino.

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Keep casino, crowd demands

GANANOQUE —The message was simple and to the point.

To the Province of Ontario, City of Kingston and potential investors: Leave Casino 1000 Islands in the Thousand Islands.

Close to 400 area residents, casino workers, merchants and emergency personnel joined a who’s-who of the local political scene at a rally Thursday outside the Lou Jeffries Gananoque TLTI Recreation Centre.

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Another casino article

Reading The Intelligencer this week, you would be forgiven if you thought you were reading the Ontario Gambling Daily. From stories about potential developers, to stories from Kingston and Gananoque about the possible move of that casino, to the local war of words erupting among councillors … there hasn’t been this big of a hot-button issue in this town since, well, I can’t remember.

So, why am I writing about it? The answer is simple: too many people seem to have taken leave of their senses, and I can’t take it anymore.

Personally, I couldn’t care less about whether a casino comes to The Friendly City. I travelled to Las Vegas twice last year, and spent a whopping $20 in the Bellagio — and that’s the total for both trips.

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Referendum motion filed by Jenkins

BELLEVILLE – Coun. Jodie Jenkins is moving forward in his bid to have a municipal referendum on the casino issue.

Jenkins issued a press release late Friday stating he filed a motion with Belleville’s city clerk requesting a referendum take place during the next municipal election. Residents, under the motion, would be asked if they support the location of a gaming facility in Belleville.

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Large Turnout At Casino Rally

A large crowd turned out in Gananoque east of Kingston yesterday for a “Save Our Casino” rally.

A rivalry has sprung up between the two communities after Kingston municipal staff started talking about what role a casino could play in their city.

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Ganonoque fearful of losing casino to Kingston

Ganonoque residents say they’ll continue rallying to keep their casino from moving to nearby Kingston.

Hundreds of people from the eastern Ontario town showed up at a demonstration Thursday night, hoping to keep the Thousand Island Casino and its economic spinoff in their community.

“(They may be interested in) Kingston due to the fact that bigger is better, maybe they want their share,” said Leeds and Thousand Islands Mayor Bruce Bryan.

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Toronto casino: a hidden battle for the prize

U.S. gambling giants working hard to win the coveted prize of Toronto are eager to fund non-gambling attractions at Ontario Place if they can operate a casino across the bridge at Exhibition Place.

That scenario — helping the cash-strapped province rebuild Ontario Place, pouring Exhibition lease payments into City of Toronto coffers and creating thousands of jobs — is being floated by some aligned with MGM Resorts.

Rival bidder Caesars Entertainment is also intrigued by the idea of an “integrated resort” straddling Lake Shore Blvd., with clearly marked sides for family and adult fun, but doesn’t want to appear to be pushing a particular GTA location.

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Caesars Windsor Voted Best Area Casino

For the twelfth consecutive year, Caesars Windsor has been voted by gamblers as the best overall gaming resort in the region.

The honour is the result of thousands of votes cast by readers of the gaming magazine Casino Player in the publication’s annual survey, with the local property beating out area competitors MotorCity Casino, MGM Grand Detroit Casino and the Greektown Casino.

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Public meeting scheduled for possible North Bay, Ontario casino construction

The City of North Bay, Ontario has scheduled a public meeting August 22 to get residents’ feedback on the possibility of developing a casino in the city.

According to a North Bay city staff report July 25, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) issued a request for information in May to solicit input from the private sector, and North Bay is identified as one of five zones being considered for the establishment of a new gaming facility. The zone, named N5 by OLG, allows for up to 300 slot machines, according to the city staff report.

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Councillor clarifies position on casino

Belleville councillor Pat Culhane has clarified her position on a casino for Belleville, saying she’s in favour unless a convincing case to the contrary is made.

“If somebody wants me to be a ‘yes’ or a ‘no,’ as of today, unless there’s some compelling evidence to the contrary, I’m sticking with my original vote, which was, of course, ‘yes,’” Culhane said Thursday.

“There is no evidence to persuade me to the contrary.”

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The human cost of casinos

BELLEVILLE – Local addictions workers say they won’t oppose Belleville’s efforts to secure a casino, but they want anyone with gambling problems to seek help.

Executive director Cate Sutherland and counsellor Mary Boyce of the Addictions Centre (Hastings/Prince Edward Counties) Inc. are adamant in declaring their neutrality on the issue.

“We take no political stance,” Sutherland said emphatically.

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Economics trump risk: politicians

BELLEVILLE –  For politicians in favour of gambling, the end justifies the means.

Addictions workers and some local opponents of gaming venues cite cases of increased gambling problems after casinos are created.

But as most Belleville council works toward bringing a casino to Belleville, the city’s mayor and all but one councillor are united in one view.

They say the economic benefits of gambling are plentiful; the risks of social and gamblers’ financial ruin are not.

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Rally set in support of casino

GANANOQUE – Township of Leeds and Thousand Islands Mayor Bruce Bryan says the town and township both need to show they are going to put everything they have into saving the casino.

If the casino goes, the repercussions will be tremendous,” said Bryan. “We’re using the money from the casino for capital expenses and towards the villages. The casino is critical for us. This is super serious and will be crushing if we lose this.”

Tonight there will be a Save Our Casino rally beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Lou Jefferies Gananoque TLTI Recreation Centre.

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Public misinformed, says Culhane

BELLEVILLE – Most Belleville councillors want a casino in Belleville, but one says too many residents don’t fully understand the issue.

Mayor Neil Ellis says he wants a casino; so do six of the city’s eight councillors.

Coun. Jodie Jenkins is opposed; Coun. Pat Culhane has yet to decide, saying she’s still gathering information.

The problem, she said, is that more people aren’t doing the same thing.

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Casino mayors to Belleville: “Go for it”

You can talk about politics, research, faith, addictions, morals, crime and scandal.

But in the end, Belleville’s quest for a casino boils down to cash and who’s winning or losing it.

Lots of it.

Critics say there won’t be enough or that it will go to the wrong places or be taken from the wrong people.

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Policy pits Belleville against QW

I have been asked a lot about the Belleville-Quinte West casino debate, but first, I think we have to talk about what got us to this point.

The McGuinty government has a problem. It has a $15.3 billion dollar deficit, a debt rapidly approaching $300 billion and $10 billion is spent annually just to service that debt.

The Ontario government’s problem is not a revenue problem, it is a spending problem. Nevertheless, the government has decided, rather than making tough decisions at Queen’s Park, it has to find new and creative ways to get more of your money.

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City seeks public input on casino

The casino debate is going public.

Council has approved a public meeting for Aug. 22, starting at 6 p.m. at city hall, to hear from residents about the possibility of a gaming facility in the city.

Coun. Dave Mendicino, chairman of community services, said the entire evening has been set aside for the meeting, in which the public will have a chance to provide input on whether North Bay should be home to casino.

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Casino meeting to gain input, “not debate”

BELLEVILLE – An Aug. 13 public meeting on a new casino for Belleville will be a gauge for public opinion — not a forum for debate.

Mayor Neil Ellis said city officials want to hear public opinions on the issue but won’t be engaging in discussion.

“The meeting is not to debate people,” Ellis said. “It’s just for us to write down what you say.”

Ellis said most city residents support the concept of a casino but he’s willing to listen to critics as well.

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Ajax tells Province it wants casino expansion

AJAX — Ajax wants to expand OLG Slots at Ajax Downs, and doesn’t understand why Whitby thinks it deserves a 15- to 20-per cent portion of Ajax’s proceeds from the gaming facility.

Only one casino is permitted in the Ajax, Whitby and Pickering area, and OLG wants it to be expanded from the Ajax site’s current size. While Pickering said it’s not interested in hosting a gaming facility, Whitby had strong words for Ajax.

“The key point for me is whether Ajax is willing to share, knowing they now risk losing everything,”Whitby councillor Don Mitchell said at a Whitby council meeting, threatening that Whitby will make a play to host the facility if Ajax doesn’t share its proceeds from the OLG Slots.

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Ajax, Whitby squabble over OLG casino revenues

Ajax and Whitby are squabbling over casino revenue in a dispute that has the appearance of a high-risk poker game.

Whitby wants a share of revenues at an expanded Ajax Downs casino and is threatening to bid against Ajax for a casino if money is not promised.

Should Whitby win the approval of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., the Ajax facility would have to close because the lottery corporation has allotted only one casino for either Pickering, Ajax or Whitby.

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Another big name enters Toronto casino sweepstakes

Las Vegas Sands is the latest resort giant to officially signal its interest in bidding for a Toronto casino.

The company does not yet have a specific site or proposal for the casino, but senior vice-president Andy Abboud said Las Vegas Sands has been exploring options “all over the GTA.”

“Our main interest is, however, in the downtown core and the waterfront, because we want to be close to existing tourist infrastructures … close to all the best restaurants and theatres,” he said Monday.

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Las Vegas Sands officially in the running to build a Toronto casino

Las Vegas Sands is the latest casino giant to officially vie for the right to build a local resort, registering five lobbyists and eyeing potential sites across the GTA.

Andy Abboud, a Sands senior vice-president, said Monday the company does not yet have a particular site or proposal.

Sands, which owns resorts in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania, Macao and Singapore, is “intrigued” by Toronto because of a potential fit with Sands’ “integrated resort” model that includes a casino, retail, entertainment, convention and exhibition space, Abboud said.

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Ajax tells Province it wants casino expansion

AJAX — Ajax wants to expand OLG Slots at Ajax Downs, and doesn’t understand why Whitby thinks it deserves a 15- to 20-per cent portion of Ajax’s proceeds from the gaming facility.

Only one casino is permitted in the Ajax, Whitby and Pickering area, and OLG wants it to be expanded from the Ajax site’s current size. While Pickering said it’s not interested in hosting a gaming facility, Whitby had strong words for Ajax.

“The key point for me is whether Ajax is willing to share, knowing they now risk losing everything,”Whitby councillor Don Mitchell said at a Whitby council meeting, threatening that Whitby will make a play to host the facility if Ajax doesn’t share its proceeds from the OLG Slots.

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Village wants casino waterfront land

Point Edward Mayor Dick Kirkland has a wish list for the new owners of his village’s waterfront casino.

He sent a letter to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) as a submission to their “Request for Information” phase, which closed July 4, part of the province’s modernization plan for its gambling sites.

The plan, announced in March, will see the province divided into 29 zones, each one privately run and capable of hosting a specific number of slot machines, table games or a combination of both.

Kirkland said he wants the new owners — who won’t be announced until 2013 — to install solar panels on the roof to offset energy costs and add a new banquet facility and entertainment venue in the casino.

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Centre Wellington receives OLG payment of over $500,000

CENTRE WELLINGTON

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation issued a first-quarter (April to June 2012) non-tax gaming revenue payment of $548,587 to Centre Wellington Township for hosting OLG Slots at the Grand River Raceway.

As announced on March 12, OLG is modernizing Ontario’s lottery and gaming industry. OLG officials say the effort will increase revenue for the province and create jobs while continuing to support municipalities through a new consistent funding model to be developed for towns and cities that host an OLG gaming facility.

“The partnership between OLG gaming sites and host municipalities brings substantial economic and social benefits to Ontario families,” said Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance.

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Ajax residents bank $1.7 million from OLG Slots

AJAX — Ajax residents just took $1.7 million to the bank, thanks to OLG Slots at Ajax Downs.

The payment, which covers the Town’s portion of the facility’s gaming proceeds from April to June 2012, was issued July 20 by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Proceeds are paid out quarterly, according to the government’s fiscal year.

On March 12, OLG announced it will make major changes to modernize Ontario’s gaming industry and increase the Province’s gaming revenue. The changes include turning operation of OLG casinos over to private operators, closing or relocating some facilities and unifying the fee structure for host municipalities.

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Casino clash: Mayor, Downes hurl accusations over rules of council debate

EMC News – Accusations were flying and tempers were flaring at city council during the recent casino debate.

For the first time in his term as Kingston mayor, Mark Gerretsen threatened to kick one councillor out of the meeting for questioning his role as chair.

The debate began beyond the normal 11pm quitting time of council. Councillors agreed to extend their July 17 sitting to complete the agenda.

But as midnight got closer, tempers got shorter.

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The casino question: City Hall seeks public input on high stakes issue

EMC News – The City of Kingston will go ahead with a public meeting on the idea of hosting a casino.

The mid-summer’s meeting will take place Wednesday, August 8 in Memorial Hall.

Despite warnings by the mayor to stay away from the ethical questions of gambling at this time, the contentious issue of whether to hold a meeting was decided after a marathon council meeting that spanned two nights, and caused sparks to fly.

“It’s such a negative for Kingston. I can’t see any point pursuing it,” said Coun. Rob Hutchison, who opposed holding a public meeting to gauge community interest in a casino.

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Public Input Sought on Having a Casino in Kingston

The City of Kingston is considering the possibility of a casino being opened in town, and is seeking the public’s on that decision.

A public meeting to provide feedback about this issue will take place on on Wednesday, Aug. 8 at 6:30 pm in Memorial Hall, City Hall at 216 Ontario St.

The meeting will be chaired by Mayor Mark Gerretsen and members of City Council and City staff will be in attendance.

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Kingston says ‘yea’ to casino interest

KINGSTON – Two big political questions were unanswered going into last Thursday’s makeup Kingston city council session:

a) Would Kingston consider bringing in a casino? and,

b) Could Mayor Mark Gerretsen and Coun. Rick Downes patch up their differences from a previous meeting?

Yes and yes.

Councillors decided Thursday, in less than seven minutes, to move ahead with a public meeting to discuss the opening of a privatized casino in Kingston.

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United front to keep casino

GANANOQUE – Gananoque and the Township of Leeds and Thousand Islands are hoping that by working together with a united front it will help keep the Thousand Islands OLG Charity Casino here.

A joint meeting between both councils from Gananoque and TLTI last week was set to approve an investment profile for potential investors in the casino as it moves from a public to a private corporation.

“This is a very important meeting,” said Gananoque Mayor Erika Demchuk. “The casino is jointly owned and it is imperative that we work together to save what we have.”

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Let’s have a referendum over Ontario’s casino plans

Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of people involved with the Ontario horse-racing industry. I have visited horse tracks from Windsor to Kawartha and from Fort Erie to Sudbury.

One thing I have heard at every stop is that Premier Dalton McGuinty and Liberal Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s decision to end the successful slots-at-racetracks agreement marked the beginning of the end for Ontario’s horse-racing industry and with it more than 60,000 direct or indirect jobs, at a time when we already have 600,000 unemployed men and women in the province.

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Rally set in support of casino

GANANOQUE – A rally aimed at voicing public support for the Thousand Islands Charity Casino to remain near Gananoque has been organized for next month, with area politicians and concerned residents set to attend.

A recent decision by the City of Kingston to discuss the opening of a privatized casino in that city has prompted Gananoque and the Township of Leeds and Thousand Islands – the current co-hosting municipalities – to band together in defence of a casino that is the town’s largest employer and which contributes a combined $3.2-million annually to their coffers.

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City of Woodstock receives first-quarter payment from OLG

The City of Woodstock has received its first-quarter payment from Ontario Lottery and Gaming for hosting OLG slots at the Woodstock Raceway..

The April to June 2012 non-tax gaming, revenue payment for more than $343,000 was received by the city last week

The money Woodstock receives for hosting the slots facility is used several ways. Slots funding was used to cover the city’s contribution to the new Woodstock Hospital and the city’s $100,000 annual contribution to the Woodstock YMCA’s capital campaign is also taken from slots money.

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Support For A Gaming Facility In Kingston

The City is seeking the input of residents on whether or not it should support the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) possibly locating a casino operation in Kingston. A public meeting to receive feedback on this question has been set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 8 in Memorial Hall, City Hall at 216 Ontario St.

The public meeting will be attended by members of City Council, City staff and will be chaired by Mayor Mark Gerretsen. It will include a brief presentation of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s (OLG) process to modernize lottery and gaming in Ontario, followed by an opportunity for members of the public to speak. Those wishing to speak are being asked to register at the welcome table prior to the start of the meeting. Speakers will be chosen in random order and will each be allowed to speak for up to five minutes.

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Town receives another $1.1 million from OLG

But there’s still uncertainty surrounding the future of Geogian Downs

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation issued a first-quarter (April to June 2012) non-tax gaming revenue payment of nearly $1.1 million to Innisfil, for hosting OLG Slots at Georgian Downs.

As announced on March 12, OLG is modernizing Ontario’s lottery and gaming industry. The effort will increase revenue for the province and create jobs, while continuing to support municipalities through a new consistent funding model to be developed for towns and cities that host an OLG gaming facility.

“The partnership between OLG gaming sites and host municipalities brings substantial economic and social benefits to Ontario families,” said Dwight Duncan, Minister of Finance. “The sites create thousands of good jobs, boost local economies through increased tourism and help municipalities build strong, prosperous communities by sharing gaming revenues.”

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Cash rolls in from casino

Thunder Bay received the first payment of the year of their share of casino revenues.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) issued the first quarter non-tax gaming revenue payment of $626,540 to the City of Thunder Bay for hosting OLG Casino in the city.

The first quarter covers April to June, 2012.

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Airport, yes. Casino … maybe

Even in the dead of summer, the wheels of progress keep turning, for better or for worse. This past week saw city council move forward on two major files with the potential to change the face of the city, for better or for worse.

First, council gave the go-ahead to city staff to look into expanding the runway and terminal at Norman Rogers airport. For a cost of $13.2 million, the airport, which currently receives only smaller passenger planes, could welcome larger jets carrying twice as many people.

Supporters of the expansion argue this would lead to more flights by more airlines, making the city more attractive as a convention destination, more easily accessible to tourists, and more hospitable to business.

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Another potential casino site? Front Street

A casino on Front St. in the heart of downtown Toronto is the latest proposal spawned by the Ontario government’s bid to boost gambling profits.

Oxford Properties Group is incorporating a possible casino-entertainment complex into discussions of a major redevelopment of its part of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and surrounding properties, the Star has learned.

Two independent sources confirmed the talks, but portrayed Oxford, owned by pension giant OMERS, as joining in the casino discussions with less zeal than others such as MGM Resorts and Caesar’s Entertainment.

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Hamilton-Burlington Shows No Interest In New Casino

For the past few months, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has been shopping around the idea of building a new casino in the GTA. A number of municipalities have stepped forward express their interest in hosting the new casino – but Hamilton-Burlington is not one of them.

While Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring has stated that his city has no interest in hosting the casino, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina had a different idea. He actually expressed interest in bringing the GTA casino to his city, but local counsellors were not on board with the idea. Unfortunately for him, the council did not support the hosting of a new casino in Hamilton. Additionally, in the last referendum held on the issue, 64% of residents opposed the construction of a Hamilton casino.

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Rainbow mall owners pursue role in downtown casino

Vista Hospitality says mall a natural choice

While the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is tight-lipped about what groups have expressed interest in building a casino in Greater Sudbury, at least one potential suitor has confirmed its interest, at least on some level.

Vista Hospitality, which owns the Rainbow Centre, participated in the first part of the process – the request for information – in hopes of eventually seeing the casino located in its downtown mall.

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Green light on casino talks

KINGSTON – Two big political questions were unanswered going into Thursday night’s make-up city council session:

a) would Kingston consider bringing in a casino; and,

b) could Mayor Mark Gerretsen and Councillor Rick Downes patch up their differences from Tuesday night’s first go-round?

Yes and yes.

Councillors decided last night, in less than seven minutes, to move ahead with a public meeting to discuss the opening of a privatized casino in Kingston.

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Bigger casino has a bigger human price

It’s not easy to put a price tag on a ruined life.

But that’s precisely what we need to do as the city eagerly contemplates the bottom-line benefits of expanding the casino at Western Fair District.

Everybody wants jobs and prosperity. And that’s why the folks at Tourism London and the London Chamber of Commerce back a bid to build a bigger and better casino, one that, according to Tourism London general manager John Winston, could feature a several-thousand seat theatre and waterworks display.

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Detroit’s 3 casinos see drop in revenue

Revenue from Detroit’s three casinos was down in June, though not because of the new Toledo casino that opened in late May, experts said.

Gross receipts for the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino and Greektown Casino were down 5.8% from May and 1.6% from June last year.

Moody’s gaming analyst Keith Foley said the decline mirrors a nationwide trend.

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Public input on gaming facility heard

EMC News -Quinte West – Council heard public input at its Monday meeting regarding the potential location of an OLG gaming facility within the city. Several residents had comments to share, for and against the possible casino.

“We have had a few phone calls and comments,” noted Mayor John Williams.

Mike Stortini from Batawa said he had a moral issue with a casino and felt that people don’t have to gamble. “Clientele should be visitors, not the people who live in this area,” he said.

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Whitby wants piece of the pie from casino revenues

Decision pending on whether council will allow Province to consider town as host site

WHITBY — Is Ajax ‘all in’ when it comes to expanding its current gaming facility or will the municipality finally agree to share a portion of its revenues?

That’s the question on the minds of Whitby councillors, who are under the gun to decide whether they will allow the Province to consider placing a casino in the town.

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Casino process will be fair: OLG

GANANOQUE – The Thousand Islands Casino officially celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday, but many minds were focused on the gaming centre’s future rather than its past.

Municipal leaders and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation officials gathered Thursday to mark the casino’s first decade in business at an event held just hours before Kingston city council was to decide whether to embark on a process that could result in the casino being moved. For the current host municipalities, there is reason for concern.

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A first for Caesars Windsor

Caesars Windsor is the first casino in Canada to receive a seal of approval from the Responsible Gambling Council.

“It’s a tribute to their enthusiasm to develop programs that meet not only Canadian but international standards,” council CEO Jon Kelly said Wednesday.

“When you sign up to be the first, you’re taking a risk. What are these people going to tell you? What if we are not successful? So they have put themselves on the line to do this.”

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Casino debate boils over

KINGSTON – The city council casino debate ended abruptly in the early hours of Wednesday morning with the mayor and one city councillor yelling allegations at one another.

The next day Coun. Rick Downes accused Mayor Mark Gerretsen of “bullying.”

Downes was also in the process Wednesday morning of e-mailing the city clerk to ask if anything could be done about the mayor’s “biased” handling of issues prior to the resumption of the meeting Thursday night in the city council chambers.

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Jenkins wants casino referendum

BELLEVILLE – Mayor Neil Ellis refuses to gamble with a referendum addressing the contentious casino debate.

The mayor said he won’t be supporting a motion being proposed by Coun. Jodie Jenkins calling for a referendum on the building of the controversial casino project in Belleville.

The motion for a referendum being sought by Jenkins is aimed at gaining widespread public input on the subject.

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QW council hears casino concerns, support

Some Quinte area residents think council should jump at the chance to have the casino here while others are concerned for the future of the community.

Less than a dozen people spoke at the Quinte West council public meeting regarding a possible casino in the area, but opinions jumped between supporting and not supporting the casino. Trenton resident Wayne Fairman said he’s been visiting casinos for years and strongly supports the idea of having one locally.

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Gauging casino interest: Mayor

KINGSTON – There is no denying that the possibility of Kingston wanting a casino is on the table, but that doesn’t mean the city is trying to take from Gananoque what they already have, Mayor Mark Gerretsen said.

The recent announcement that the provincial government will be privatizing casino operations throughout Ontario means that all municipalities will be looking at whether or not their city wants a casino, Gerretsen explained.

“Basically, all that is being asked of the municipalities is a blanket yes or no as to whether they’d like to have a casino,” Gerretsen said.

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Is a casino in the cards for Whitby?

Public weighs in on possibility of gaming facility for the town

WHITBY — The people have spoken, and many would like to see a casino in Whitby.

More than 4,500 people across the community participated in a virtual town hall meeting on July 11, which was held to gather public input on the possibility of the town becoming a host community for a gaming facility.

“I am very much in favour of encouraging industry (to come) here, and job creation, so I think we should do everything possible to make the decision to put this casino in the Whitby area,” said Ken, one of more than a dozen residents who asked questions during the hour-and-a-half phone conference.

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We need to take a few more risks

Some say life is a gamble.

To even exist is to take a risk.

But what constitutes a risk?

The dictionary describes it this way: “the possibility of suffering harm or loss.”

So to me, that means a perception of fear, while taking a risk means overcoming the fear of the unknown.

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IMPROVING THE CORE: An amphitheatre and a casino two ideas being put forward to create jobs and boost economy.

You’re heading out for a night on the town with guests making their first visit to London.

They like music, so heading to the 1,000-seat amphitheatre at the forks of the Thames is an option. After the concert, you could stick around for the permanent light show at the old courthouse.

If your guests are up for something with more glitz, you could hit the expanded casino at Western Fair District. Even if all the tickets for the show on the casino’s stage are sold out, you could try your luck at the machines and take in the waterworks display and light show.

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Hands off town’s casino: mayor

Gananoque believes it’s holding a strong hand but there’s concern around the table that Kingston may not be bluffing.

The province’s recent privatization of casino operations has Kingston council set to discuss a motion to determine if the city is interested in hosting a gaming facility. Since only one such facility is permitted in a gaming zone, any successful bid by Kingston would ultimately mean the closure of the Thousand Islands Casino in Gananoque.

Gananoque Mayor Erika Demchuk calls that scenario “highly unlikely” given the millions of dollars and the logistics involved, but adds “it would be irresponsible for me to say it would never happen.”

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Stephen Marche: the case for a downtown gambling palace at Ontario Place

A Toronto casino is inevitable. Will it be an ugly box built where nobody can see it, or a glorious five-star island of fun?

“Toronto the Good” is an epithet applied only by those with a passing familiarity with the city. In truth, Toronto is a place where you can indulge your vices with ease and comfort and the relative security that you’ll be left alone with your degradation. Valerie Scott, legal coordinator for the lobby group Sex Professionals of Canada, recently explained to reporters that Torontonians shouldn’t worry about a sudden explosion of brothels after a ruling that legalizes bawdy houses: “There have been brothels in practically every condo and apartment building in Toronto. People have no idea they exist, we are so discreet.” Toronto’s virtue has always been superficial, little more than a collective pursing of the lips. The same squeamish moralism is now at work on the issue of a downtown casino, and a huge opportunity for the city may well be wasted on its account. The debate we should be having is the one we are most predisposed to avoid: not whether we should have a casino, but how we can make the casino we will have fabulous.

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Wasaga offers up 8 potential casino sites

WASAGA BEACH – Wasaga Beach has identified eight sites that may be suitable locations for a casino.

In a letter to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation dated July 3, the eight sites are provided in response to a request for information initiated by the OLG after Wasaga Beach, Clearview Township, Springwater Township and Collingwood were identified as part of the C7 zone, a potential location for a gaming facility with 300 slots.

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Casino question to be put to council

KINGSTON – Kingston city council is to discuss Tuesday night whether the municipality is interested in hosting a gaming facility.

A motion is to be put in front of council asking that the city hold a public meeting at City Hall on July 31 to gauge public opinion about a casino in Kingston.

Information gathered at that meeting will determine if the city offers itself as a host municipality.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation began a process to modernize the province’s gaming industry.

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Wabigoon Lake applies for casino with OLG

Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation is looking to build a casino, conference centre and hotel in Dryden.

“It’s at the request for information stage,” said Wabigoon Lake Chief Ruben Cantin. “So it’s going to take a while, maybe even this fall and even later on until they formalize a decision on who’s going to get licenses and who isn’t.”

Cantin said the community first became interested in developing a casino project in the mid-2000s but put it on hold after a moratorium on casinos was put in place in 2005.

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Fort Erie Race Track: ‘I’m not closing this place. Not today, not ever.’

A large plaque hangs on a wall of the Prince of Wales Dining Room. It is, in fact, pretty much the entire wall – floor to ceiling in height, some seven feet long, it displays the names of every winner of the Prince of Wales Stakes since 1959. There are blank plates to display champions well into the future, too. All the way to 2038.

The question is, of course, will any be needed past 2012? That was the undercurrent Wednesday afternoon as horse racing aficionados gathered at Fort Erie Race Track for the annual pre-race ritual: the PoW draw. It’s where horses are matched to a starting position for this Sunday’s second jewel in Canada’s Triple Crown – always an exciting occasion for the border oval and its host town.

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Ontario municipalities receive $61M annually from current slots revenue system

Further evidence your taxes likely will rise when the slots-at-racetracks program ends next March came last week when the treasurer for the town of Milton said residents could be hit with a tax increase of between 22 and 25 per cent without a cut of gaming revenue.

It was just the kind of message the beleaguered horse racing sector needed in its struggle to reach average citizens disinterested in the industry’s plight and slow to appreciate the incredible economic benefits the slots-at-racetracks program provides to all Ontarians.

Linda Leeds, the director of corporate services/treasurer for the Town of Milton, said without the slot hall at Mohawk Racetrack, in Campbellville, or an alternative gaming site in the town, residents would have to make up a considerable financial shortfall.

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Ombudsman to review slot closure complaints

Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin is reviewing more than 150 complaints from the public about the provincial government’s handling of the horse racing industry.

On the ombudsman’s official Twitter account on Monday, Marin responded to a query about the removal of slot machines from Ontario horse racing tracks by saying that his office had received about 30 complaints on the issue.

“We are conducting an initial assessment,” Marin wrote.

On Tuesday, Marin posted that he is reviewing more than 150 complaints on the issue.

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Quinte West wants input on casino

Quinte West residents who have opinions about a proposed casino can air them next week during a public meeting on the subject.

Quinte West council will receive input next Monday evening — during its regular council meeting – regarding Quinte West becoming a host municipality for the potential location of an OLG gaming facility.

“Part of the process we are going through – to prove to OLG that we are serious – is to collect public input,” said Mayor John Williams. “We want the input for council’s consideration and OLG will want to know that we had the meeting and heard the opinions of the residents.”

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Savage collecting casino questions

STAYNER – Clearview Township deputy mayor Alicia Savage is asking council members to provide her with their questions relating to a casino possibly locating in the region.

Savage, at council’s meeting last Monday night, said she plans to forward the questions to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) Corporation in the next few weeks.

She said the plan is to give the questions to OLG prior to a meeting later this summer between the crown corporation and local municipal leaders, where the opportunity to host a casino will be up for discussion.

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Council wants public opinion about possible casino

Residents who have opinions about a proposed casino can air them out next week during a public meeting on the subject.

Quinte West council will receive input next Monday evening – during the regular council meeting – regarding Quinte West becoming a host municipality for the potential location of an OLG gaming facility.

“Part of the process we are going through – to prove to OLG that we are serious – is to collect public input,” said Mayor John Williams Monday. “We want the input for council’s consideration and OLG will want to know that we had the meeting and heard the opinions of the residents.”

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Chamber of Commerce tosses its bet behind Western Fair for new casino

The London Chamber of Commerce is hoping it threw a winning bet behind the Western Fair District in the race for expanded gaming services.

Gerry Macartney, chamber CEO, said he thinks London is the right location and hopes the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) agrees.

“The fact is somebody is going to get one and there are very few opportunities for communities in Ontario because of the contraction that OLG is going through,” Macartney said. “Our view is it might as well as be here because we’ve got a strong base, a strong system (and) a strong organizational team at the Western Fair District that knows what they’re doing, as does OLG.”

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Casinos aren’t great economic drivers, but there are pluses – Point of View

If Suburians want to gamble, let them. Bring on the casino. But it will not lead to a better quality of life. The economic impacts for a community with a casino are not life-changing.

It should be looked upon as another venue for entertainment and a good source of employment –both of which are attractive — but a casino does not work well as an economic driver.

That was the conclusion of a 2004 study of the Brantford casino, five years after it opened. That city’s experience is a reasonable comparison for what Greater Sudbury might expect.

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Scott Stinson: If Ontario is going to fleece more suckers, let’s fleece them properly

The McGuinty government’s plan to expand the operations of its agency responsible for lotteries and gambling has them, unusually, on the wrong side of the safety police.

The Liberals, after all, are the party that has banned smoking in cars carrying children, that has made it an offence for a young person to drive if too many other young people are along for the ride, that has outlawed certain breeds of dog and that has effectively made the dandelion the provincial flower over dubious concerns about herbicide risk.

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OLG could use Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore as model for Toronto casino

A projected casino is consuming much of the energy in Toronto politics. When a specific proposal is unveiled, however, it should be examined with care, not dogmatically rejected or uncritically embraced.

Rod Phillips, the CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., and Paul Godfrey, its chairman, appear to be on the right track. Such a development would not work if it is tawdry or grim or both. Mr. Godfrey hopes for an “integrated,” high-quality facility on the shore of Lake Ontario, near the major downtown hotels, in which a casino would only be one element, accompanied by good restaurants and theatres – rather like the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore. In principle, such a project is quite desirable.

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5 building blocks of a Toronto casino

Plans for a mega-casino on Toronto’s waterfront have been touted by Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission officials, but the project still has to clear many political hurdles before the first roulette wheel can be spun. The proposal to build a gaming facility in the city is contentious, with politicians and residents split on whether it’s a winning idea. Before the project gets final approval, everyone will get to have their say – from the province to the municipalities to the casino operators eyeing the potentially lucrative development, said Rod Phillips, OLG’s president and CEO, in an interview with the National Post’s editorial board.

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OLG desperately needed an overhaul

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s bid to shake up the province’s gambling business is getting thumbs down from the horse racing industry, from communities that will lose their slot machine operations, and from those who oppose the spread of gambling. A Forum Research poll this week found that 69 per cent of Ontarians oppose plans to increase gambling by adding casinos here and in Toronto.

Ottawa city councillors have shown initial enthusiasm for the idea of a casino here, but that could be quickly tempered by public opinion.

The provincial government, keen for the promised new revenue, will bull ahead with the plan, but it would be doing itself and Ontarians a favour if it took some time to explain why the idea has merit.

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