On Thursday, December 6th, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party Caucus released its anticipated white paper entitled ‘Paths to Prosperity – A New Deal for the Public Sector.’ In the paper, the Ontario PC Caucus states that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s ‘empire building’ in the gaming sector should be stopped, and that the province should give racetrack operators ‘first crack’ at buying existing slots operations.
The mention of the provincial horse-racing industry appears on Page 21 and states:
“Putting an immediate end to the OLGC’s empire building plan for 29 new casinos across the province could also create an opportunity for Ontario’s horse racing industry. One option would be to give racetrack operators a first crack at buying existing slots operations at fair market value, which could save their industry while still providing a good return to taxpayers.”
The white paper also contained many general references to the provincial gambling sector. Earlier this week, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak made it public that he wants the province to get out of the business of being a gaming owner/operator, and strictly become a tough regulator of the lucrative industry.
The white paper states that, if voted into power, the Ontario PC Party would “re-examine every business that government is in,” to see if there is still a need for government ownership, or real value for the public. The paper singles out gaming in this instance, noting “of particular interest are government’s gambling and liquor businesses.”
The white paper also takes aim at the OLG, stating:
“The case for change in gambling is even stronger. We believe that government must regulate the industry, but it certainly doesn’t need to run its day-to-day operations. The track record of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is a sorry one. Casino profits have dropped from $800 million in 2001 to just $100 million in 2011. The company itself says it requires $1 billion in public money to refresh its outdated products. And this is after pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into its struggling resort casino in Windsor, money that could have gone towards highways or hospitals.”
A reoccurring reference to the fact that the government should take on a tough regulatory role to the gaming industry keeps appearing in the white paper. “It is time for the government to become the responsible, respected and tough regulator and not the operator trying to bully communities into accepting new casinos. The government should move to wind down the OLGC, and privatize its lotteries, casino assets and slots operations.”
Click here to view Hudak’s introduction to the WHITE PAPER in its entirety.