Ontario’s Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) revealed its grand “programming expansion” this week to develop a new casino in Greater Toronto. The Ontario government approved the plan and called for private operators to expand businesses and boost revenues in the debt-ridden Canadian province.
The OLG held a conference Monday setting out its latest plan to modernise gaming in Ontario. As well as a new Casino Resort, the plan includes expanded lottery sales, online gaming legislation and consolidating or closing aging casinos in border cities.
Currently home to Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview in Niagara Falls, Casino Rama and Caesars-operated Casino Windsor, State gaming profits have been in severe decline over the past decade, falling from $800 million in 2001 to $100 million in 2011. Market research shows 80 percent of casino patronage came across the border from Detroit during this time.
Now, as Michigan looks to introduce up to 22 new casino facilities throughout the State, it is time for Ontario to “modernize” its fledging gaming industry and fast. The southern-most Canadian state is reeling from a $16 billion deficit and hopes a new casino and gaming vision would help clear its debt by 2018.
A Toronto Casino still needs a business study and local approval but the OLG, backed by Mayor of Toronto Rob Ford and government officials, is confident the industry needs a shake-up.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, said in a statement, “We are focused, more than ever, on balancing the budget. Modernizing OLG’s operations and business model is an example of how we are ensuring our assets are delivering the greatest value.”
The fate of existing facilities is yet unknown, but the Finance Minister insisted the Windsor and Niagara Falls Casinos would not shut down. Although essential to rejuvenate Ontario’s gaming industry, existing operators will likely take a hit. The horseracing and VLT industries are concerned the move will put thousands of people out of work.
OLG said the new casino facility and gaming plan would generate $1.3 billion a year for the government’s bottom line, as well as create 2,300 jobs in the gaming industry and a further 4,000 jobs in hospitality and retail.
“We are prepared to move forward immeadiately on discussions with municipal leaders to bring one new, world-class gaming centre [to Greater Toronto],” said OLG Chairman Paul Godfrey, “It will create jobs and be a catalyst for economic growth and prosperity.”
The plan also includes expansion of slot machines beyond racetracks and new lottery operations throughout retail centres and supermarkets. “Lottery tickets can be in drugstores, multi-lane stores, the Walmarts, the Costcos of the worlds,” commented Godfrey.
OLG, who currently oversee operation of over 23,000 slot machines, 500 gaming tables and 10,000 VLTs, would encourage new casinos to place a greater focus on table games, which generate huge revenues and appeal to a younger demographic.