Today, the City of Hamilton is meeting with the OLG and Great Candian Gaming Corporation to discuss the future of Flamboro Downs and whether or not they would be willing to be hosts for the OLG. You can view it here or review the agenda.
Here is a brief overview:
The OLG, when asked, made it very clear that they are "Not in the business of Horse Racing", and is currently having outside negotiations with potential private sector operators within the zoning boundaries of the City of Hamilton before the City has even made a decision with regards to being a host.
If a casino is granted to another Municipality within the zoning boundaries of the OLG, the City of Hamilton will receive NO revenue from that Municipality.
The OLG relies on two specific words in the majority of their answers to the City of Hamilton -- "Not Defined". When the City asked what the zoning boundaries are, and why they keep changing, the OLG's response is "They're not defined yet." When the City asked what the new revenue amount would be if they choose to be a host, the OLG responded with, "Not defined". When the City asked if they could review the RFP's (Request For Proposals), the OLG responded with, "The way in which these would be reviewed and considered have not be defined at this time".
This is what the City of Hamilton would like before making a decision with the OLG:
1) Negotiate an extended multi-year lease arrangement with Flamboro Downs and/or extend the lease for 18 months until the 2014 Provincial Election.
2) Include a Referendum on the 2014 Provincial ballot or procure a Referendum sooner and have the Provincial Government pay for it.
3) The City would be involved in any planning, building, regulating and legislation which would be incurred by any modernization, expansion, or construction of any new casino facility.
4) The zoning boundaries be clearly defined by the OLG and not subject to change midway through negotiations to benefit the OLG.
5) Generated revenue from the OLG to the Municipality must be clearly defined in order for the City to actualize their 2013 Municipal budget.
6) Answers as to why the OLG has a "unique" relationship with the First Nation's, Casino Rama in Orillia, and if this "unique" relationship is available to the City of Hamilton in supporting Flamboro?
Out of the $40 million allocated to gambling addiction in Ontario, only $307,000 is provided to the Municipality, including Hamilton, with Flamboro Downs ranking 8th out of all facilities according to the OLG. The OLG also stated that the Ministry of Health disperses those funds overall.
The City of Hamilton's greatest concern is why the Provincial government and the OLG is rushing this process along so fast - They change legislation to suit them, create ammendments to support their own agendas, ask Municipalities to be willing hosts to casinos with absolutely no information, no concern for it's taxpayers, and no concern for this city's future. This "now or never" tactic is being held over the City of Hamilton's head and they fear not only losing horse racing at Flamboro Downs, but lose the choice of an informative decision. They're basically signing under duress if they choose the OLG's proposal at this point in time.
Just another day in OLG paradise......UGH!!
Stay safe, keep your hooves on the ground, and keep reaching for the wire...