It was announced on Wednesday that Ontario's Auditor General will review the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.'s gaming modernization plans.
Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod sent out a tweet on Twitter this morning (Wednesday, April 10) which read, 'After 8 months of trying I am so proud that the Auditor General will review the OLG's expansion plans, its impact on horseracing & casinos.'
Reports indicate that Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter has been directed by a legislative committee to investigate the OLG modernization, and that the probe could possibly start as early as this week, even though that would mean the Auditor General's office would have to delay probes that it is currently undertaking.
“OLG will support the Auditor General’s review in every way we can and we look forward to working with his office,” said Rod Phillips, president and Chief Executive Officer of the OLG.
The Ontario PC Party motion tabled at the end of March, which calls for the Auditor General to look into whether the government acted properly in cancelling the Slots-at-Racetracks program, will be debated April 10.
The motion also asks that the investigation include whether the government fully considered the economic impact on rural Ontario communities.
“It’s a very clear and direct motion that will finally give us the answers we’ve been seeking about the OLG modernization ever since it was announced,” said MPP Steve Clark (Leeds-Grenville) in a release. "I’m certainly hoping the Liberals and NDP support it.”
Unlike the NDP motion passed in the Legislature on March 28 with PC support, Clark noted the PC committee motion is binding.
“The government won’t be able to ignore this one, as I fear will happen with the NDP’s,” he said.
Among the areas the motion asks the Auditor General to investigate are:
Whether a clear, consistent, fair and transparent process was used for proposed gaming sites;
If host-city-payment agreements are equal across the board and that no municipalities were offered a special deal;
Whether mental health and addictions concerns in new host communities were given adequate consideration; and
If OLG and the government have done enough consultation to ensure new gaming facilities are actually welcome in potential host communities.
OHRIA: Horse Racing Industry Calls on Wynne to Respect Legislature and Pause OLG Modernization
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) is calling on Premier Kathleen Wynne to pause the OLG’s modernization process until after the Auditor General releases his report on the decisions surrounding the OLG modernization plan.
Today, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts voted to ask the Auditor General to investigate the OLG’s process in determining the Modernization Plan. The Auditor General has confirmed that an investigation will commence in short order.
“We have had serious concerns with the OLG’s modernization process from the start. The Public Accounts committee’s motion raises significant questions about the Government and OLG’s gaming modernization strategy and called on the Auditor General to investigate. This is a very serious development and one that the Premier must respect,” said Sue Leslie, president of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association.
“The OLG’s modernization process has ravaged our industry. Thousands of people have lost their jobs as a result of this rush to dramatically change gaming in Ontario. We formally ask Premier Wynne to respect that a majority of the legislature has twice in less than a month voted to demonstrate their opposition to the current approach the OLG and government are taking. We urge the Premier to pause OLG Modernization until the Auditor General’s report is public,” Leslie added.
The motion, as adopted, calls on the Auditor General to investigate all aspects of the OLG’s modernization strategy, including the process for tendering, contracting, and planning for all new or proposed casinos; host-city-payment formulas; revenue projections and economic impact assessments; community impacts on mental health and/or addiction matters; effects on the Slots At Racetracks Program; and consultations to determine whether or not casinos are welcome in proposed communities.