The Weekend's Ontario Gaming News

Published: January 28, 2013 12:59 pm EST

With the O'Brien Awards, horse-racing's presence at the Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention and Kathleen Wynne becoming the province's next Premier, there were clearly a lot of Ontario racing-related happenings this past weekend. Now for the news stories that may have fallen through the cracks.

As reported by the Toronto Star, Toronto's city manager, Joe Pennachetti, has revealed the bottom of his estimate regarding the annual hosting fee that the city should expect to receive if a casino becomes a reality in the city.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. had previously announced that it believes Toronto would receive $50 million to $100 million annually if a downtown casino becomes reality, much less than initial estimates of $168 million. As The Star article explains, Pennachetti now believes the least Toronto can expect to receive in terms of an annual hosting fee is $30 million.

A reference to OLG Chairman Paul Godfrey also appears in The Star note. Although he is not an elected official, and although it is not his position to comment on what the City of Toronto should do with its own revenue, Godfrey was cited as saying that the city should make sure the revenue it receives via hosting fees should not be worked into Toronto's operating budget, but instead be funneled to capital projects, such as public transit, which has been a hot-button topic in the city for years now.

The Star report also quoted Councillor Shelley Carroll as saying that she would not vote in favour of casino expansion without some type of guarantee regarding the annual hosting fees Toronto would receive. “I’m going to need to know the amount of money, because if it’s a paltry sum, we can say no,” she was quoted as saying, and added, “If it’s a substantial sum, that would give me pause.”

Switching gears to the future of Kawartha Downs, the five-eighths mile raceway located in Fraserville, Ont., an article by the Peterborough Examiner has cited Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal as saying that KD will be presented with a deal featuring the same 'framework' as the one agreed to between the Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. As the report states, the track has not yet determined whether it will be hosting live horse racing or not past the completion of the slots-at-racetrack program (March 31, 2013). The article cites Leal as saying that he expects Kawartha to make a decision regarding the offer and its 2013 live racing season some time in February.

The Sudbury Star has reported that representatives from the OLG will be present at a Sudbury City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, January 29. The report also quotes Sudbury Downs President Pat MacIsaac as saying that the tentative raceway slot-machine agreements reached between the OLG and 10 Ontario tracks appear to be a good sign for the immediate futures of the racetracks, but that nothing is set in stone just yet.

While he did state that "there's no more revenue-sharing agreement with the horse racing side of things," and that the agreement will be "a lease of the space at Sudbury Downs," MacIsaac said there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the tentative deals.

"It's not comprehensive and not binding," MacIsaac was quoted as saying in regard to the tentative track slots deal. "We don't want to get into details about the agreement because it is very preliminary and requires an awful lot of discussions and agreements going forward before anything solid is in place. It's pretty hard to discuss things that are uncertain."

(With files from the Peterborough Examiner, The Sudbury Star and the Toronto Star)

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