After Ontario Premier-Designate Kathleen Wynne stated Thursday that she wanted jurisdictions to have some control over casino placement, she stated that she will not be halting the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.'s controversial gaming modernization plan. Also, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina has gone on the record as saying the city should use “some or even all” of its cut from the proposed downtown casino to be redirected to Flamboro Downs.
According to a report by the Ottawa Citizen, Wynne took part in an eastern Ontario media conference call in which she stated that she is on board with the OLG's modernization plan.
The article quoted Wynne as saying, “I understand that the reality of casinos is with us, adding that "there’s no plan on my part to change that reality.”
Echoing what she said during a phone-in show on CBC Radio earlier in the day, Wynne said during the media conference that, “What I have said, over and over, is that I do not want the provincial government or an arm of the provincial government to be interfering in terms of municipal process, and I want municipalities to have the autonomy to decide whether they want a casino and where they want it to be."
Wynne's comments regarding the location of casino expansion within 'willing host municipalities' serves as a perfect segue into recent casino comments made by Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina.
The location of casino expansion has been a polarizing issue in Hamilton for months now. Residents seem to either be strongly for or strongly against the prospect of a full-blown casino complex introduced to the downtown core. There is also an equally-strong push --- one which is backed by Hamilton City Council --- to see any casino expansion within Hamilton to be located at Flamboro Downs.
As a report by the Hamilton Spectator explains, during a recent breakfast meeting of the Flamborough Rotary Club and the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce, Bratina said the city should redirect “some or even all” of its cut of revenue from a proposed downtown casino to Flamboro Downs.
The Hamilton Spectator report has paraphrased anti-downtown casino councillor Sam Merulla as saying that the mayor's 'messaging of using tax-relief dollars to help the declining horse-racing industry only confuses an already complex issue.'
A segment of the Hamilton Spectator article states that:
The mayor hasn’t officially staked out a position on a downtown casino, but he’s widely seen as supportive.
He’s also known as a politician who will trim his sails to suit his audience.
It remains to be seen whether Bratina was simply playing to the Flamborough crowd or if he’s really serious about subsidizing horse racing in the area.
If he formally advances a motion or at least strongly advocates the idea among councillors, it’s only fair to take him seriously.
(With files from the Hamilton Spectator and the Ottawa Citizen)