Tory leader praises council over gaming expansion plans

December 13, 2013 9:24 am Views: 71

Provincial Tory leader, Tim Hudak has recognised the Ottawa city council’s wise decision to expand gaming at the Rideau Carleton Raceway and Slots, saying that he wishes all Ontario cities with a horse track were more like Ottawa. In October of this year, the council decided to expand the venue over plans to build a new downtown casino.

The council narrowly passed a modified casino deal with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) by 12 to 11. The vote was regarding amendments to the deal, which was approved in November 2012 between the OLG and the city to expand the gaming operations at Rideau Carleton Raceway. The altered agreement saw an additional $1 million annually, which is collected from the 4% table game revenue generated from 21 new gaming tables at the Raceway.

Although the future was looking bleak just last year, with the then Finance Minister Dwight Duncan terminating the city’s Slots at Racetracks Program – together with the OLG, the Rideau Carleton Raceway has beaten the odds. The expansion plans has seen the raceway avoid the threat of closure and will see the local industry return to its former glory. Provincial liberals have already reversed a previous decision, to extend Thursday night harness racing and restore the twice-weekly gaming calendar.

Hudak put emphasise on his new “plan for horse racing jobs”, ultimately putting pressure on the current Liberal government to halt modernisation plans, which would see the construction of 29 casino venues. Hudak heavily criticised these plans, saying: “This will mean more government jobs, fewer jobs in the horse racing industry and fewer spinoff benefits in broader rural communities.” He added that he believes the expansion of slot machine facilities should take place “where the gaming already is.”

Earlier this year, the city’s hope for the construction of two full-fledged casinos was dashed when the Ontario government reiterated the OLG’s position and rejected the proposals. Finance Minister Charles Sousa stated in a letter addressed to Mayor Jim Watson: “Based on this analysis, the Ontario government continues to support the OLG recommendation of developing one zone and one site in the Ottawa area.”

Despite the construction of new land-based casinos being rejected though, citizens across Canada still have access to the globally booming internet casino market. Unlike neighbouring USA states, it is not illegal for Canadians to play on online casino sites such as those listed here, whilst gaming commissions such as the OLG are even operating online casinos themselves.

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