On Wednesday, September 19, Hamilton City Council voted in favour of a resolution which, in part, asks the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. and the minority Ontario Liberal Party if they support a 2014 municipal referendum on casino gaming expansion within the city.
A report by the CBC explains that Councillor Sam Merulla moved a motion which is asking the province to pick up the cost of a referendum on the contentious issue if it happens before 2014. The resolution also asks the OLG to consider extending its lease of the slot-machine gaming area inside Flamboro Downs until the city can hold the referendum. Hamilton City Council has gone on the record as saying that it supports the continuation of operations at Flamboro Downs first and foremost ahead of expanded casino gaming elsewhere within its jurisdiction.
It was divulged in the council meeting that all of the other municipalities within 'Zone SW9' --- one of many designated areas within the OLG's controversial gaming modernization plan --- have made it clear to the OLG that they are not interested in being a 'willing host municipality' for casino expansion in their jurisdictions. Therefore, as the gaming zone grid is currently constructed, Hamilton is, at this time, the only municipality which could possibly allow OLG casino expansion in Zone SW9. The OLG representatives in attendance also stated during the council meeting that under the conditions of the modernization process, they are allowed to skew the parameters of the gaming zones, thus bringing more confusion and uncertainty to the whole process.
In Hamilton Council on Wednesday, Merulla told the OLG representatives in attendance that the city just wants to put the brakes on the process for the time being in order to "try to understand what's going on in a process that hasn't included us so far.”
In regard to the city's request, an article by the Hamilton Spectator has quoted OLG Senior VP, Gaming, Larry Flynn as saying, “We're going to have to go back and look very carefully at the questions that they ask and then make a decision with our board and with the government that is appropriate.”
The OLG reps said that they would be back in front of Hamilton council with answers from the OLG board within four weeks' time.
(With files from the CBC and the Hamilton Spectator)