Illegal Gambling Arrests Cast Cloud over Hamilton Casino

The arguments against a proposed casino in Hamilton are likely to get a little louder.  The OPP say they have charged three people with promoting illegal gambling in the city as a result of a thorough investigation.  A court date for December 5 will see three people from Hamilton, Stoney Creek, and Waterloo, face their first preliminary hearing.

The police obtained three search warrants after reports indicated illegal gambling machines were being promoted throughout the city.  The warrants were used to uncover 11 machines at three separate businesses, which each contained thousands of dollars in cash.

The news of the arrests comes as Hamilton city council is weighing its options in regards to a casino proposal drafted by the OLG.  The gaming facility subcommittee has decided to host two public forums in the next month to gather community opinions on a casino, before officially bringing the issue to city council.  Concerns about illegal gambling uncovered by the OPP are expected to be heard at these forums.

Currently Hamilton receives over $4 million each year from the slot machines at the Flamboro Downs racetrack, as a part of the OLG’s slots at racetrack program.  But the OLG announced earlier this year that program is coming to an end, and will be replaced by privatized casinos in approved communities.  The OLG has asked Hamilton to support a gaming facility such as a casino, somewhere in the city, but council will require public opinion before formally accepting or rejecting the OLG’s proposal.

The city is also expected to receive feedback from an automated phone call survey commissioned by Councilor Sam Merulla.  The councilor has formally asked city staff to submit a list of questions for councilors to put a survey together from over the next month.  As a result of the OPP arrests, some of these questions may be altered.

OLG CEO Rod Phillips is expected to speak to the gaming facility subcommittee on November 9 to answer questions regarding costs and benefits of a casino that will affect both economic and socio-economic concerns.

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