Earlier this summer, Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati sent a request to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne asking that the two casinos in his community be included in the OLG’s gambling modernization strategy. Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak was in the Niagara community last week, and assured Diodati his request is fully supported by Ontario’s official opposition.
The OLG first announced its modernization strategy a year and a half ago. The focus was primarily placed on casino expansion and redevelopment, particularly into the very vibrant GTA community.
But Toronto city council ultimately voted against the casino earlier this year, putting the focus of the OLG strategy in jeopardy. Citing an opportunity to drive investment into his community, Mayor Diodati requested that Premier Wynne include Niagara Falls in the modernization strategy, which to date is excluded from the OLG’s plans. Diodati wrote to Queen’s Park that Niagara is the gaming capital of Canada, and all of Ontario would benefit from investment in new casinos.
“It is the logical place in Ontario to expand the gaming sector and attract more tourism, jobs, investment and spending.”
Diodati is still waiting for an official response from the Ontario government. As leader of Ontario’s official opposition to the Liberal government, Hudak saw an opportunity to position his party in a different light than the government by officially endorsing Diodati’s request.
While in Niagara last week to tour the region, Hudak gave a statement alongside Diodati outlining the need to include Niagara in the casino expansion strategy.
“We are seeing fewer Americans coming across the border, and we are seeing more Canadians going across the border there. The problem is that we have two bosses, the company running it and the OLG second guesses every decision.”
Hudak and the PC party have made no secret that they disagree with the OLG’s management of gambling in Ontario. The opposition leader agrees that the OLG should remain as a regulator for gambling, but also feels casino managers should be free to make their own decisions on how to run their facilities without additional approval from the regulator.
The OLG remains a political hot button issue at Queen’s Park, and is expected to be one of the more lively topics of debate when Parliament resumes later this fall.