Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Blackjack at the River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C. June 11, 2009.

JOHN LEHMANN for The Globe and Mail

The corporation that oversees government-sanctioned gambling in Ontario is pushing for a major expansion, including a casino in Toronto, more public access to slot machines and lottery tickets, and greater private involvement in the industry.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. believes its plan to "modernize" gambling could, within five years, add $1.3-billion to the $2-billion it contributes to Ontario's annual revenues.

"This new revenue will help us balance the budget," provincial Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who backs the plan, said Monday.

Story continues below advertisement

OLG chairman Paul Godfrey said that about 40 per cent of the projected new money would be expected to come from a casino in the Greater Toronto Area. Ontario Place has been raised as a possible site, but OLG executives stressed that no discussions have begun, noting that bids will be assessed on their business cases and that municipal approval is crucial.

Councillor Doug Ford, Toronto mayor Rob Ford's brother and closest adviser, is an enthusiastic proponent of opening a casino in the city.

The chair of the city's economic development committee believes council would get on board too.

"I think the positives would outweigh the minuses, and for those reasons, I think that you'd find council would support the development of a casino in the Toronto area," said Michael Thompson, who predicted Toronto would seek a significant share of the casino's revenue in exchange for its support.

But the prospect of more money for Toronto won't sway opponents like Adam Vaughan, the councillor whose ward abuts Ontario Place.

"[Casinos]take away the ability of a local operator to compete," Mr. Vaughan said, referring to downtown restaurants and shops. "Then you're left with the social problems that mount around a casino location, everything from suicide to prostitution to a lot of break and enters."

In an OLG report made public on Monday, the corporation also argues for much greater public access to gambling products and games. They pledge to "broaden the player base by becoming more appealing – not increasing the amount that current customers gamble."

Story continues below advertisement

While Mr. Godfrey acknowledged that adding a casino in the Toronto area would cause some "erosion" from facilities elsewhere in the province, the plan assumes a pent-up demand among Ontarians and tourists that can be tapped with more convenient facilities.

But there is a certain wariness in border towns whose casinos are already suffering from reduced cross-border traffic.

"No question, a casino in Toronto would have a very major effect on all other casinos," said Niagara Falls mayor Jim Diodati, who is calling for more study on the effects of expansion. "If you're just going to cut the pie into smaller pieces, that's not going to benefit anyone."

Windsor's chief financial officer, Onorio Colucci, said falling casino revenues had slashed in half the $13-million once paid to the city in property tax. "I would certainly be concerned about anything that impacts the substantial cash inflows that we get from the OLG facilities," he said.

Among the other changes proposed in the report, the OLG wants lottery tickets to be more easily available at retail outlets, noting that many Canadians do not visit convenience stores, and slot-machine facilities to be installed outside of racetracks. The latter proposal was slammed by Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, who said it would "throw 60,000 Ontarians out of work."

Under the plan, the current total of 27 gambling sites would be increased to 29, although no decisions have been made on which facilities might close or where new ones might be built.

Story continues below advertisement

The opposition New Democrats, who called the proposed changes an attempt to balance the budget on the backs of desperate families.

"The Finance Minister and the Premier are gambling addicts," NDP MPP Rosario Marchese said. "In my view, the majority of families will lose."

He pledged to fight the possibility of a casino in Toronto.

The corporation also wants to extend privatization, increasing the number of industry workers employed by the private sector to "almost 100 per cent" from 60 per cent.

"The process to get to that is going to be a transparent process, a tender if you will, for the ability to operate the various facilities we have today that are not currently private-sector operated," explained OLG chief executive Rod Phillips.

When asked about wage, benefits or job-security protections for current employees, he said the details remain to be sorted out.

Story continues below advertisement

"The process will be developed over the months ahead," Mr. Phillips said. "But these employees are very valuable, they're very effective at their jobs. And as I said, they have an [Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario]registration, which is a highly valuable piece of registration to have, because you have to have that registration to work in a gaming facility. So I suspect that the vast majority of these employees will [continue]working."

Under the proposed shift, OLG would continue to maintain oversight of gambling operations run by the private sector.

With a report from Kelly Grant

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies