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Betting on casinos an unprofitable move for provinces

Faced with strained budgets and waning infrastructure, many cities are betting on casinos to fill their coffers. But how profitable are they?

Big resort casinos like the one recently extinguished in Toronto are not the cash cows they’re made out to be. It’s true that Ontario casinos made $1.7-billion in revenue during the 2010-11 fiscal year, according to data from the Canadian Partnership for Responsible Gambling. But after expenses were paid, the Ontario provincial government kept only 10 per cent of it — a profit of $166-million — with some of that revenue transferred elsewhere, like municipalities. This trend goes back several years, especially in Ontario where expenses are the highest in the country: for every dollar Ontario earns at a casino, they shell out 82 cents on expenses.