Article published on 14 March 2012

Ontario Plans Gambling Industry Overhaul

Changes to Ontario Gambling Industry
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The Finance Minister of Ontario, Dwight Duncan announced sweeping changes to the Canadian province's gambling industry, which could result in $1.3 billion in new revenue per year.

New plans in the pipeline include moving gambling online, the construction of a new casino in the greater Toronto area and the closing of existing gambling facilities which, according to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), are "underperforming".

The Finance Minister said that in the first six years following the changes in Ontario's gambling industry, a total revenue amount of $4.6 million could be realized.  Thereafter, the industry should see a consistent annual income of an extra $1.3 billion.

"With its new business strategy, OLG will increase its revenues by more than $1 billion a year," said Duncan. "It will also create more than 2,300 net new jobs in the gaming industry and nearly 4,000 additional jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors by 2017-18."

Underperforming Canadian Casinos to be Shut

The Chairman of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp, Paul Godfrey, said that the group was looking to shut down or relocate a number of casinos, particularly those on the US border that have failed to attract sufficient US players.

"The profit from OLG's border facilities has plummeted from $800 million in 2001 to approximately $100 million in 2011," he said.

Some of the options include allowing the private sector to operate OLG gambling facilities, and the corporation said that within a year and half, all employees at its casinos would be private sector works.

He would not expand on potential closures until all details were finalized.

Plans for Super Casino in Toronto

One of the biggest plans rolled out by the OLG was the idea to construct a new super casino in the Greater Toronto Area.  The province hopes to have this new casino account for 40% of the $1.3 billion in annual revenues which it foresees.

"We are prepared to move forward immediately on discussions with municipal leaders to bring one new world class gaming entertainment center to the GTA," said Godfrey. "This facility is key to OLG's plans to unlock greater funding for health care and education."

Godfrey promised that all plans would be kept in check until the OLG was aware of the position of local governments.

"We are looking across all Ontario," he said. "And there'll be gaming zones developments where these kind of facilities will be looked at, but always in consultation with the municipal council. If a municipal council says to us they don't want it, they won't get it."

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