Anyone who’s been to an Ontario hospital or attended a community festival has likely benefitted from OLG funding
A little-known fact about the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation: It’s the number 1 source of non-tax revenue for the province of Ontario. And the almost $2 billion in revenue the OLG generates each year exceeds contributions from other big crown corporations such as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and Ontario Power Generation.
So, the number 1 question Ontarians have about OLG is: Where does the money go?
In broad terms, according to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation Act, net provincial revenue generated from lotteries and casinos is required to support such things as hospitals, amateur sport, Ontario First Nations, problem gambling programs and charitable and not-for-profit organizations in the province.
But the specifics tell a much more compelling story.
Funding for healthcare
By far the largest share of funds generated by the OLG is directed to priorities like hospitals and health-related programs. In the current fiscal year, for instance, $1.496 billion in net revenue from lotteries, OLG-operated casinos and slots will be dedicated for hospital use. That equates to funds for innumerable lifesaving procedures and a substantial amount of medical equipment for the 13 million residents of Ontario that won’t need to be generated through taxes.
Aside from ongoing health-related costs, OLG funds also contribute significantly to major one-time operations, such as the building of the new Sault Area Hospital, which opened in March 2011.
Sault Ste. Marie, a northern Ontario border city of 75,000, is the site of one of the province’s charity casinos. As a host municipality, Sault Ste. Marie receives a portion of the funds that OLG facilities return to their communities. Last year, the total provided to host municipalities was $110 million.
When Sault Ste. Marie consolidated its two aging hospitals into one modern, new facility, it decided to put $13 million in casino revenue toward the building of the Sault Area Hospital.
“Our taxpayers didn’t have to pick up the tab for that $13 million,” said Sault Ste. Marie mayor Debbie Amaroso.
Those taxpayers don’t need to travel to Sudbury anymore for cancer treatments, either, and they have new doctors in the community, attracted by the chance to work at the new, state-of-the-art facility that employs 1,900 people.
SUBHEAD: Community commitments
Every community that hosts an OLG casino or slots spends its funds differently. For Point Edward, which hosts OLG Casino Point Edward, just north of Windsor, OLG funds translated into a new fire station and emergency vehicles. For Innisfil, home of OLG Slots at Georgian Downs, it meant a new recreational complex that houses a YMCA with a pool, gym, community exercise classes and an indoor ice rink. And in Hamilton, the approximately $4.6 million in annual revenue from OLG Slots at Flamboro Downs is rolled into general city revenues.
“So, over the years, it’s pushing well over $40 million,” said Hamilton mayor Bob Bratina. “Do the math: That’s a benefit to our city.”
Perhaps the city that has changed most visibly from the influx of OLG revenues is Brantford, the southern Ontario city that hosts OLG Casino Brantford.
Benefits for Brantford
Twenty years ago, by all accounts, Brantford was a city in decline. Big local manufacturers had left the area and smaller businesses were abandoning the downtown core, leaving nothing but boarded-up storefronts behind. But when the city welcomed the casino in 1999 and put together a plan to revitalize the downtown by creating post-secondary satellite institutions, things began to change.
“We have completely revitalized our downtown. And we did that through post-secondary education,” said Brantford mayor Chris Friel, pointing out that as of September there were 3,000 students from four post-secondary institutions living and learning in downtown Brantford. “The dollars that we have been investing to see those buildings and the campuses grow in our downtown core came directly from the casino.”
By the time the academic year started in September, with students attending satellite campuses of Wilfrid Laurier University, Conestoga College, Mohawk College and Nipissing University in downtown Brantford, new coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants had opened up to serve learners, instructors, friends and families. Other businesses benefitting from the influx of learners and teachers include residential landlords, entertainment venues and barber shops and beauty salons.
While OLG’s two main beneficiaries are healthcare and communities, plenty of other Ontarians benefit from OLG revenues as well. About $10 million went to the provincial amateur athletics program Quest for Gold in the past fiscal year, $40 million was directed to education, research, prevention and treatment of problem gambling, and $2.3 million went toward sponsoring community festivals and events of all sizes.
In total, over the 37-year lifetime of the corporation, OLG has returned $36 billion to the province. And as OLG transforms itself into a modern organization for the 21 century it will keep building on that history of contributing, with the goal of increasing annual net profit to the province by $1.3 billion by 2017-18.
For more information please visit: www.ModernOLG.ca.