OLG To Toronto: Expect Less From Downtown Casino

Published: January 6, 2013 07:33 pm EST

While earlier reports delivered to Toronto City Council estimated that a casino could be worth close to $168 million to the city, officials from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. told the city to expect "significantly less" than that total.

According to an article in the Toronto Star, new estimates put the provincial hosting fee at $50 million to $100 million per year for a downtown location.

Tony Bitonti, spokesman for OLG, said that the new figures, which depend upon on the size of the capital cost of building the casino, were determined after examining potential sites and consulting potential casino operators.

“If it’s a $2 billion facility, you’re looking at a certain (fee) amount, and if it’s a $3 billion, then you’re looking at a little bit more,” Bitonti was quoted as saying.

Mayor Rob Ford had previously voiced his support for a Toronto casino with expectations that it would bring the city over $200 million a year in revenue -- up to $168 million predicted in an Ernst & Young report commissioned by the city for hosting the casino, plus increased property taxes.

Councillor Mike Layton, who opposes a waterfront casino, believes "all of the players in this are overestimating the potential benefits” and has cited concerns for increasing traffic congestion in the downtown core if a casino were approved.

Such concerns have also been put forth by Onex Corp., a firm lobbying against a downtown casino by highlighting potential issues and questioning revenue and job predictions, according to another Star article. The article states that Onex Corp. favours a casino-resort in Markham.

Ford's executive committee will receive public feedback and is expected vote on whether Toronto would be a willing host for a casino in March while Toronto City Council is expected to vote on the issue at its meeting in early April.

Toronto's public consultation process will kick off onJanuary 9, as five public sessions, scheduled through until Saturday, January 19 have been planned.

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If the 3000 slot machines at Woodbine made 900 million in profits, the 5000 machines in a new casino could be expected to take in 1.5 billion. Applying the new formula given to Ottawa, which was supposed to apply to all new casinos, Toronto would receive somewhere between 20 and 25 million. For a casino to produce 50 million for the city, slot revenues alone would have to be 7.5 billion a year. Is there a new formula in place that the public doesn't know about? Could it be that the OLG is just as confused as everyone else? It would be comical if so many good people weren't being hurt by this betrayal.

"all of the players in this are overestimating the potential benefits” ... and thats likely a huge understatement.

The REVEL Resort Casino is Atlantic City's newest. It apparently cost between $2.4 and $2.6 Billion and began operations last April. The people of Toronto (and Ontario) should do a little research on the REVEL ... and see how what happened there compares with OLG's estimates!

Sooner or later the OLG spin will hit the fan. Hard to believe that the OLG is a Crown corp. that somewhere down the line is to represent the province and it's taxpayers.

Undoubtedly what this province needs is a good cleansing in the form of an inquiery into government and crown dealings which are " out of control" along with spending.