The core of the OLG’s gaming modernization strategy was to develop new privatized casinos in major urban centres across Ontario. The ‘jewel in the crown’ of this strategy was the downtown Toronto casino proposal, which if approved would have developed a gaming entertainment centre near the city’s waterfront.
Those plans fell apart when Toronto city council voted overwhelmingly against the casino proposal, shutting the door on the centrepiece of the OLG’s modernization plans. As a result, the provincial gambling regulator began putting its focus on proposals for other regions, particularly in other southern Ontario communities located west of the GTA.
But an announcement last week once again put an end to the OLG’s initial plans. The casino proposals once in place for Hamilton, Waterloo, and other regions will be scrapped for the time being. Instead, the OLG intends to find one operator to run the Grand River Raceway in Elora, the casino in Brantford, and the slots at the Mohawk and Flamboro Downs racetracks.
The OLG initially planned to develop a casino in Hamilton, but local administrators decided only the Flamboro Downs racetrack was an acceptable site for the casino, a proposal the OLG did not support. Similar opposition was found in the Waterloo region, where city councils of the three biggest cities voted against a casino in their borders.
The new operator of the four designated gambling centres will be given authorization to select new sites where the facilities could be relocated or replaced. However as was the case with the casino proposals, the operator must be given consent from city councils and the provincial government to proceed with the plans.
The OLG says this clause could leave the window open for new casinos in southern Ontario, but those plans are likely much farther down the road than initially projected.