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OLG Closing Slots At Windsor, Hiawatha, Fort Erie


Published: March 14, 2012 9:02 am ET

Last Comment: March 21, 2012 7:08 pm ET | 31 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The effects of Monday's OLG gaming modernization will be felt starting today. The province will close slot operations at three tracks, both Windsor Raceway and Hiawatha Horse Park on the standardbred side as well as the thoroughbred facility in Fort Erie.

Slot machines at Windsor, Fort Erie and Hiawatha will cease operating on April 30, 2012, but the tracks and municipalities will continue to receive "reasonable" payments and funding from the province until March 31, 2013. No details were given on how that arrangement will work.

Trot Insider will update this story as details develop. The official release from OLG appears below.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is announcing today it is permanently closing its slot machine operations at racetracks in the three border communities of Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia.

The closures of OLG Slots at Windsor Raceway, Fort Erie and Hiawatha in Sarnia are part of OLG’s plan to modernize lottery and gaming in Ontario following a steady decline of U.S. visitors to Ontario gaming sites and changing customer preferences.

“While this was a difficult decision to make, it was necessary. Fewer Americans are crossing the border to play slot machines at border sites. A decade ago, border casinos returned a net profit of $800 million a year. Today, that profit is less than $100 million and falling,” said OLG President and CEO, Rod Phillips. “With OLG’s plan to modernize the province’s lottery and gaming sector, we will create some 2,300 net new industry jobs and about 4,000 service sector jobs. Gaming will be more convenient for customers, profitable for Ontario taxpayers and safer with the expansion of our gold standard approach to Responsible Gaming.”

As a result of today’s announcement, all three slot facilities in Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia are temporarily closed to the public for 24 hours until March 15 at 9:00 a.m. EST.

“We regret the impact today’s decision will have on employees who are affected by these impending closures,” said Mr. Phillips. “We hope our customers in the Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia areas understand our decision to temporarily close these three locations for 24 hours so we can properly attend to and support our employees.”

OLG currently expects to continue reasonable financial contributions to the affected municipalities until March 31, 2013, in order to assist with the transition. OLG also intends to continue to make reasonable payments to the operators of these racetracks until March 31, 2013, as long as live horse racing events continue. The Provincial Government has announced that the province-wide Slots at Racetrack program will be ending March 31, 2013.

“In order to be more responsive to our customers as we modernize our business, we will expand, relocate and contract OLG gaming sites. These three site closures are difficult, but are an important first step. The discussions with key stakeholders regarding potential relocations or new facilities will begin shortly. We will keep employees and the public up to date or our progress,” added Mr. Phillips.

In “Modernizing Lottery and Gaming in Ontario,” a report delivered to the Minister of Finance on March 12, 2012, OLG outlined a proposal to transform lottery and gaming in Ontario to modernize the system and create jobs. By modernizing lottery and gaming, in addition to initiatives currently underway, in five years OLG will contribute an additional $1.3 billion annually to key public priorities and usher in $3 billion in private sector capital investment in the province.

The report made three key recommendations to reform Ontario’s gaming and lottery industry:

• Become More Customer-Focused
• Expand Regulated Private Sector Delivery of Lottery and Gaming
• Renew OLG Role in Oversight of Lottery and Gaming

March 21, 2012 - 7:08 pmLets all band together and

Bob Adams SAID...

Lets all band together and rid ourselves of this Minority Dictatorship and lets get a new election going. This is our right and lets stop the music right now and save our
horse racing industry, the best in North America.

March 20, 2012 - 10:47 pm“Modernizing Lottery and

“Modernizing Lottery and Gaming in Ontario,”

The report made three key recommendations to reform Ontario’s gaming and lottery industry:

• Become More Customer-Focused - the public shows with their buts and their wallets that they love driving to the track for an eclectic night/afternoon of entertainment.

• Expand Regulated Private Sector Delivery of Lottery and Gaming - no $h!7, the OLG couldnt make 5 cents running their own yard sale full of Coke memorabilia.

• Renew OLG Role in Oversight of Lottery and Gaming - if you must be involved do so from afar - a mere formality figure - kind of like the queen is to Canada (surly this new role would cost less than 900 million in salaries).

Cost of my recommendations - $0
Cost of the “Modernizing Lottery and Gaming in Ontario,” recommendations - not priceless

I love how there is no math available for the budget of closing these three facilities.
OLG will be selling scratch tickets for half a century to pay for the closing.

March 19, 2012 - 3:06 pmAccording to the press

Norm Brunet SAID...

According to the press conference the windsor racetrack slots ONLY made 41 million in 2011. Anybody closing down a location that makes 41 mil needs to do more explaining. Sounds like the Liberals are trying to send people to the 1 billion $ white elephant they built and paid for.

March 16, 2012 - 11:04 pmSo profits at the border

Paul Goff SAID...

So profits at the border slot parlours are down. Given detroit and windsor probably went through the worst recession in 80 years and the can. dolllar is near par with the american. They still made 100 million so when detroit gets back into full swing and the american dollar gains strength hmmmm could we see 800 million or more in profit. But for those that are losing their jobs in a month you can move to toronto in 2 years after the new casino is built and hope to get a job. oh wait but you will be working for private company for less money and paying more in rent and expenses. This "Job Creation Shell Game" has to stop and the true impact on how many front line and spinoff jobs will be lost

March 16, 2012 - 2:48 pmThe Provincial "Fiberals"

Carolyn Rae SAID...

The Provincial "Fiberals" are at it again. The statement, copied below from their above Press Release, is meant to make them look in the media, like they are giving something from the "goodness of their hearts" (what hearts, that's a joke!) to those whose throats they are slitting, when in fact, they are contractually bound to give one years notice as clearly stated in the existing Slots at Racetracks Revenue Sharing Agreements between the Province and the Racetracks before they can close or end the Slots at Racetracks Agreement! The reason OLG currently expects to continue reasonable financial contributions to the affected municipalities until March 31, 2013, has nothing to do with "assisting with the transition". Let's cut the crap Duncan, Godfrey and McGuinty. For once try just plain and simply TELLING THE TRUTH, unless it has been so long since you have done that, you can't remember how! You don't give a damn about the transition or how many people you kick to the curb and unemployment lines, you are forced by the existing agreement, to GIVE ONE YEAR'S NOTICE BEFORE ENDING THE SLOTS AT RACETRACKS PROGRAM, AND THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING, AND NOT ONE DIME MORE!!!!! Your gutless media BS is really sickening. You steal rural Ontario's heritage, and the future of our Children and Grandchildren, all the while lining your own pockets, then have the audacity to try and BS the public into thinking you are doing someone a favour out of the goodness of your "hearts", which is also a joke, because you have shown us time and time again, you don't give a damn about anyone from rural commumities, or whether those communities survive or not. Probably if the truth were known, you are down-right ashamed (& if not, should be)of the fact that these Municipalities have been able to keep local taxes stable, and build/expand on local infrastructure, and Community projects on their 5%; something you idiots have been unable to do with your 75%! CUT THE CRAP, AND CALL A SPADE A SPADE! Because you have failed miserably to make money in your OLG owned Casinos, you close the Slots at the Racetracks (a proven money making partner of the Provincial Government) to force people to gamble at your establishments. I can't believe you can't see how stupid that is, but wait maybe I can. That would explain why you are driving this province further and further in debt. You don't seem to have one brain amongst you that has any business sense. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out YOU CAN'T SPEND MORE THAT YOU ARE MAKING, AND GET AHEAD! Even my 10 year old grandson knows that doesn't compute! Likewise, you can't slow this train of destruction down by fueling the flame with more Casino's to rob the rent and food money of desperate families, trying any way they can to survive. You say you will help by setting more money aside for gambling addiction. Well that says right there, you are well aware of the fact that you are creating the problem. They say Paul Godfrey is a very smart business man, and that is probably the truth, problem is, the smart business man is making hundreds of thousands for himself, and who knows how many other "friends of McGuinty" on the backs of hard working Ontarians who he is supposed to be working for, not against! I hope when the public reads this paragraph below, they take it with a grain of salt, as we have all learned, by now, to do with anything that comes out of the mouths of this Government. Sounds to me already like this new OLG plan, has some under the table deals already made. Sounds an awful lot like a new member of an ever growing list: ORNGE; E-HEALTH; DRUMMOND REPORT; & now OLG MODERNIZATION!

"OLG currently expects to continue reasonable financial contributions to the affected municipalities until March 31, 2013, in order to assist with the transition. OLG also intends to continue to make reasonable payments to the operators of these racetracks until March 31, 2013, as long as live horse racing events continue. The Provincial Government has announced that the province-wide Slots at Racetrack program will be ending March 31, 2013."

March 15, 2012 - 5:00 pmWhen you stand back and look

Al Roselle SAID...

When you stand back and look at the entire situation it all comes down to politics gone out of control. The thing that is forgotten in this sinerio, which is the same in many issues, is that this government, the same as any government, is supposed to be working for us, and nothing else. It appears that personal politics has now been taken from the people and these elected personel tell us rather than ask us what is the best thing to do. I am sure if you ask the people what is best, that this response, the government is using would never even be a concideration from the general public. That inculdes any persons that voted liberal who I am sure are all hanging there heads in shame now. Unfortunately I don't think this venue is big enough or strong enough to reach the general public to let all people realize what effect this will have on Ontario.

March 15, 2012 - 12:00 pmHello Howard. Currently the

Hello Howard. Currently the OSS is funded predominantly through the SRA program which is a pool of monies that was set up many years ago when the provincial tax levy on wagering was reduced. The SRA is used to fund the OSS program, Breeder awards, our RRSP program, marketing monies that pay for initiatives like the youth camps run by OHHA, advertising, media spend etc. There are other allocations of SRA as well that escape me at this moment. Racetracks also receive a portion of the SRA monies for Capital improvement, marketing, etc. If I have my facts straight the OSS purses start with the tracks average purse and then the OSS funds top them up to the full OSS purse. So the tracks do pay purse money into the OSS purses...the elims for sure not sure about the finals. The OSS program did have a surplus of $3-4 Million dollars the last time I sat on the committee, which was 2009, and the budgeting was done with an expectation to not bring that number down significantly. I would imagine that in fact the surplus may have grown as over the last couple of seasons we have seem more carry over races where elims were not required in Gold events than ever before. The program will continue status quo for this year, maybe two. I would imagine, however if things do not change re the current slots news than those purses would most definitely come down as average purse would be lower at all tracks. Does this help?

March 15, 2012 - 10:27 amWhy is the ORC so silent or

Why is the ORC so silent or has the government issued a gag order on them.There is a reminder on this website to make our stake payments BUT is there a stakes program.How does this affect OSS program?

March 15, 2012 - 9:24 amThe Government's closures of

The Government's closures of the racetrack slots and raceways will have no luck in the end result. I hope they all go belly up! And eventually good riddance to the (FIBERALS)

March 14, 2012 - 10:07 pmi have been out of racing

i have been out of racing business for 20 years but enjoy watching races every night. Was going to start getting back into business slow by claiming a horse or two. THANK YOU GOVERNMENT FOR CHANGING MY MIND!!! Ill keep my money and your gst that you would have collected in my pocket.

March 14, 2012 - 9:40 pmWell Windsor should be OK,

Ian Dow SAID...

Well Windsor should be OK, they got the money coming from Woodstock, I wonder what the ORC knew about this nonsense when the approved this move!

March 14, 2012 - 7:03 pmmike magnus not enough money

mike magnus SAID...

mike magnus

not enough money so it makes more sense to add to unemployment
whoever voted these IDIOTS in is to blame
dalton must go NOW
how about the millions these CLO
WNS have wasted
maybe they should be kicked out of office and get NO FAT CAT PENSIONS LIKE THEY GIVE THEMSELFS

March 14, 2012 - 6:05 pmThe janitor at Windsor who

The janitor at Windsor who wants everyone to pray is right on. I'm praying too--for the jobs and also that anybody running for Premier has to pass a brain scan. McGuinty could get all the money he needs if he would face up to what happened at ORNGE. and also ehealth.

Premier, your staff is/was stealing money at these two locations. Why do you need to pick on the rural folk??

George Smitherman was in charge of ehealth when all the fake consultants were hired.

Now he is with his "wife" starting a lovely little family. Where are the criminal charges?? When is Court? How does he get away with this??

The Liberals should be fully investigated and charges laid. Their crooked money is killing the rural folks.

March 14, 2012 - 5:48 pmSo sad that the government

So sad that the government is taking a slash and burn approach with no regard to peoples lives and careers. They are not even giving people time to re-invent themselves into new careers. How can the Government be so cruel to not even give the horse people a reasonable amount of time. On top of that the thousands of horses that will be negatively impacted with no jobs and in all likelihood end up in slaughter houses. The public need to be aware of this. Then their idea that they can make gaming more accessible to the public by bringing them into convenience stores and into the cities is just promoting problem gambling for our youth. But oh yes - Dalton and his government are going to put money into addiction counselling services. This really makes sense doesn't it.
I am sorrowfully ashamed of this government.

March 14, 2012 - 5:31 pmthe liberal party of ontario

david nolet SAID...

the liberal party of ontario has no idea what they're doing.i hope the voters(the less than 50% of you that do)remember this at election time

March 14, 2012 - 5:13 pmuntil the public realizes

tony d. SAID...

until the public realizes that the ontario government is using gambling revenues as a tax alternative, this government will keep pushing for more gambling parlours to increase their take, first they get rid of the horsemen's share, the track's share and also the city that the track is in. Nice little boost to the provincial coffers. I am surprised they waited this long to pull the rug from under our feet. I think the public should be made aware what this type of taxation really costs everyone, from the horse owners, trainers, blacksmiths, vets, just to mention a few. Again we have to deal with the short sighted people in government who have no idea whats it like to make a living. If this government is so dead set on balancing the budget, STOP SPENDING all our tax dollars, run this province like a business, not like there is a never ending supply of money (our tax dollars) from the good people who work hard for a living! What happens if gambling revenue decreases even further?
Then what? What will they tax, or think of next.
I think its time to oust this government and hire a person that will run this province as it should be run. I pray for everyone in the horse industry. It will be difficult to make ends meet if tracks start reducing purses or worst yet, close up. Just remember come election time, it was the liberals that did to us.

March 14, 2012 - 4:58 pmIt's a sad day when the

Randy Young SAID...

It's a sad day when the Government, that we (unfortunately) elected, focuses its energy on destroying a major and longstanding Ontario industry ... and uses what many would consider as libelous ads to convince the public that they are doing the right thing.
The Drummond Report was a total farse. I'd love to know how much money was spent for Mr Drummond and company to come up with a bunch of lame, inadequately researched proposals.
The Liberal Party will pay dearly (in the next and future elections) ... for their arrogance and stupidity. They will soon be relegated to the status of their federal counterparts ... with a handful of seats and the distain of Ontario voters (and this is from someone who has voted for the Liberal party on many occassions - NEVER AGAIN).

March 14, 2012 - 3:56 pmThis is more like a

This is more like a nightmare. It seems imposssible to get the truth out to the public. The Liberals and the OLG are acting like a dictatorship. The OLG is not following it's own purpose "To make life better for people across Ontario - by generating revenue provincially and economic and social benefits locally. Values – act with integrity by doing the "right thing" balancing what our customers and business people ask of us with what the people of Ontario expect of us. Respect our customers, employees, partners and the people of Ontario by listening openly and honestly to the diversity of people and ideas around us."
WOW - horse racing industry participants feel incredibly respected right now!

March 14, 2012 - 3:54 pm$100,000,000 million profit

Chuck Ibey SAID...

$100,000,000 million profit and how many jobs lost. Amazing this govt thinks profit isn't good. Oh wait I get it we will send all those customers to some casino and make that operator and the gov't more money......yeah lets take money from many families and give it to one operator and the Government.............sounds like somebody who wants a Casino is greasing someone...........or wait all the money to the Government does that resignate with communism.

March 14, 2012 - 3:41 pmIn my opinion , the problem

sam taylor SAID...

In my opinion , the problem is that Dalton and his crew are in over their heads. They are just not smart enough to handle the job ,that our citizens have foolishly bestowed upon them. Sam Taylor

March 14, 2012 - 3:36 pmIt is obvious that Rod

It is obvious that Rod Phillips and the OLG havn't thought this through Toronto is not Las Vegas or Reno where all there is is casinos.The majority of Trontonians don't want a casino downtown.Vancouver turned down a large casino project because its citizens opposed the plan.Getting to a downtown casino requires an expensive car journey and costly parking.Ironically a racetrack is an ideal site for a casino in a large metroplitan area, easy access cheap parking and short watking distance.How anyone with the slightest buisness sense can close 3 locations which are reportedly making 100 million a year is beyond comprehension.Most gaming is destructive and anti social casuing many problems,but horseracing which required a lot of mental imput is an exception to this rule.One can only hope the parties will take a second look and reverse the decisions

March 14, 2012 - 3:10 pmIs this the vision we have

chris bush SAID...

Is this the vision we have for Ontario? All out gambling at every conceiveable destination to pay for ineffective liberal pet projects that even Drummond placed on his list(all day baby sitting-kindergarten at 1.5 billion a year) but conveniently ignored. Please, its petty politics not "modernization". There is no other reasonable rationale. It just goes to show how morally and ethically bankrupt this government is. Perhaps this government needs a refresher course in basic math. Since when is 2300 new jobs better than 30 thousand lost jobs? Does anyone trust them to deliever this new plan in a cost effective manner? More importantly where is Tim Hudak and Andrea Horvath in this matter? Time to contact them. I have.

March 14, 2012 - 2:34 pmGreat plan, isn't it ????

Paul Gangle SAID...

Great plan, isn't it ???? The Mcguinty gov't and the OLG are creating 2300 jobs and 4000 service sector jobs while putting 60,000+ horse people out of work. Maybe my math is very good but that leaves a job deficit of 53,700 jobs if I calculate correctly. How is that beneficial to the province especially when we are losing our industrial base to the U.S. and elsewhere. We made the Province $1.1 billion and they're mad as hell because the casinos at the borders made less than $100 million. And when the "mega-casino" is built at Ontario Place in Toronto, what happens to the slots at Woodbine and Mohawk.... another loss of jobs??? What we need is a change of gov't because Mcguinty is on a witch hunt to punish rural Ontario for not supporting the Liberals in the last election. Clearly the economics of his actions simply do not add up. Let's hope that the opposition parties can force an early election and then maybe the new gov't will come to it's senses.

March 14, 2012 - 2:31 pmHow are they able to roll

How are they able to roll out this agenda so swiftly, with so many casualities at stake and no forethought on the immediate or long-term effect it is having on the industry and the people involved, directly or indirectly. Just sickening....

March 14, 2012 - 1:10 pmSo I can understand that 1.3

So I can understand that 1.3 billion could come in as additional revenue by expanding new gambling venues and understand that there will be 3 billion in private sector capital investment both over 5 years....BUT what will be the decrease in revenue from the horse racing sector and decrease in private sector capital investment in the agricultural sector?? Trading dollars for dollars....

March 14, 2012 - 1:00 pmWOW...Godfrey doesn't know

WOW...Godfrey doesn't know where racing got their numbers from???? The OLG website Paul...Your own website! this is like a bad dream! How shameful...They are comparing their new jobs numbers to the current OLG losses...not one from the racing industry...and for the record Minister Duncan the horse racing industry is made up of residents of Ontario...and several thousand jobs...hard working people in rural areas where you got it, the Liberals do not get votes. So it appears Dwight you will try and save 2,000 jobs in your home town, in a facility that is loosing money at the expense of thousands across the province, from facilities that put $1 billion in the Ontario coffers every year. Politics...there is no greater bloodsport in the world.

March 14, 2012 - 12:51 pmDon Patrick Bad enough that

Don Patrick SAID...

Don Patrick

Bad enough that the Liberals are so greedy, that a $100 million profit isn't enough. But I didn't see anything about paying the employees until March 2013. A lot of lives being turned upside down. Aren't we lucky that some 2300 jobs will be created, at some point, down the road. Pathetic.

March 14, 2012 - 12:36 pmWhere is the consumer

Thomas Hicks SAID...

Where is the consumer research that supports the decisions to modernize and become more consumer focused? Private industry, driven by return-on-investment motives flowing from positive consumer response to product and service offerings,typically engage objective, indepependent professionals to conduct in-store (on-premises) intercept surveys, on-line and telephone surveys and then focus groups to get it right before making sweeping business model changes. If the research has been done it should be made public along with identification of those organizations engaged.

March 14, 2012 - 12:20 pmA some point am I gonna wake

Randy Copley SAID...

A some point am I gonna wake up and realize this is all a dream! Mr. Phillips appolgizes for the employes missing a days work, what kind of appology will he give them on April 30th when they have no job at all? What a disgraceful government.

March 14, 2012 - 12:11 pmThey were making 800 million

Sandy Best SAID...

They were making 800 million profit, now they are only making 100 million 'PROFIT'.

Makes me wonder if 100 million profit is a bad thing. By closing it down, putting everyone involved out of work plus spinoffs, 'subsidising' racing, that should take the 100 million profit and turn it into an 800 million loss.

But we are talking about the government, so I guess it makes sense.

Sandy Best

March 14, 2012 - 11:00 amThe liberal government

The liberal government called slots at racetracks a "subsidy" so it closes the slots at racetracks and then subsidizes them. If it wasn't so sad it would be funny.

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