McGuinty Doesn't Support Casino Referendums; Godfrey Pressures Toronto; MGM Speaks

Published: September 21, 2012 11:48 am EDT

On Friday, September 21 while speaking at the Toronto Board of Trade, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. Chairman Paul Godfrey stated that the OLG needs to know if Toronto will declare itself a willing host municipality for casino expansion by January or February of 2013.


According to a report by The Globe And Mail, Godfrey again pitched the idea of a downtown or waterfront casino, along with an entertainment, hospitality and retail complex. The article also states that Godfrey told reporters that his preference for the casino expansion is the Toronto market, but that a downtown location 'is the only place that makes sense.'

Interestingly enough, The Globe And Mail report states that while delivering his speech at the Toronto Board of Trade, Godfrey was flanked by none other than MGM Mirage Hospitality President and CEO Gamal Aziz. MGM Mirage Hospitality could be in a position to cash in significantly if it is allowed to enter the Toronto gaming market and set up shop.

Earlier this summer, MGM Resorts International was heavily scrutinized by gaming regulators in the United States over accusations that at least part of its capital at one point could have been under the influence, to an undetermined extent, by Chinese organized crime groups. Just last week, multiple reports surfaced in the Canadian media about the possibility of organized crime syndicates having found their way into Ontario's provincial politics. Commenting on the issue, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was quoted as saying, "If there are serious and warranted allegations they need to be made in a substantive way, not through the media," and that he would "expect that people in positions among our police services would be drawing this to our attention at the earliest possible opportunity."

“For what we do, downtown is the option that we would focus on,” Aziz was quoted as saying, in regard to where MGM Mirage Hospitality would wish to set up shop if the OLG found it to be the company to run the proposed downtown Toronto casino. The Globe And Mail article explains that Aziz wouldn’t confirm which of the proposed downtown Toronto locations --- the Portlands, Exhibition Place or Convention Centre -- is most appealing to his company.

The OLG and minority Ontario Liberal Party have stuck to their collective rhetoric that they will not impose casino expansion on any municipality that doesn't want one; although, via the OLG, Dalton McGuinty's Ontario Liberals have announced that they will not support municipal referendums on the subject. The referendum route is the only way to get an indisputable gauge of whether the tax-paying public actually wants massive expansions of gaming enterprises in their own backyards.

After having told Hamilton City Council two days ago that he would need up to four weeks to consult with the OLG Board regarding the possibility of 2014 casino referendums in Hamilton, OLG Senior VP, Gaming, Larry Flynn yesterday penned a letter to Hamilton City Council stating, in part:

Our mandate requires us to seek municipal consent in whatever form the municipality chooses to provide it to us. This consent must involve a public input process. It is entirely up to the municipality to decide how this occurs. Since the referendum is not required by OLG, no additional funding will be provided to the municipality to undertake this step.

To read the letter in its entirety, click here.

The CBC has covered the OLG response to Hamilton's referendum question. In addition to the referendum question, Hamilton Council was also looking for a definite answer as to how much revenue the city would receive from casino expansion; what the parameters of the OLG's geographic gaming zone for the area would ultimately look like, and where the OLG would want to locate the casino. City Council has publicly held the position that it supports Flamboro Downs first and foremost, both due to its significant role in the municipality in terms of the horse-racing industry, and because of its time-tested role as a terrific revenue generator for the city.

The CBC report has quoted Councillor Sam Merulla as saying that Flynn's letter regarding Hamilton's questions, which are more than fair given everything that is at stake, was “pathetically unacceptable and inept” and that the questions Hamilton asked of the OLG “are still unanswered.”

Merulla was also quoted as saying that he is now “left with no choice but to move quickly on determining support for a referendum from council since we've been entirely removed from the process and have no control, which disempowers our city and its residents.”

Instead of getting the indisputable answer of whether or not tax-paying Ontarians actually want massive casino gambling expansions in their backyards, many municipalities have lackadaisically opted for a rather non-transparent and generally inconclusive option of receiving feedback. Many municipalities have held open-house sessions, while others have conducted online polls, some with samples sizes of merely 500 people.

Eleven days ago, Ontario New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath --- whose party this past spring abstained in a critical budget vote that would have toppled the minority Liberal Government --- stated in the Ontario Legislature that she fully supports a casino referendum in Hamilton. Horwath was quoted as saying, "Will this government direct OLG officials to discontinue any further meetings with city officials until a referendum has been held and the voices of the people of Hamilton have actually been heard?”

There has yet to be a response from Horwath since news of Flynn's OLG letter to Hamilton has come to light.

(With files from The Globe And Mail and the CBC)



It seems to be apparent that there is pressure to ram these money losing casino's down Ontario's throat. It is also obvious that there will be less money earned by the government as the cut would be whatever the Casino's want.

Has there been a group that has approached the Mayor's of each city to get their support to say no to the Liberals, to have their own referendums and present them to the Liberals? If every Mayor did this, they can't cut the money off from all of them, they wouldn't have to be worried about being punished by Liberals.
Mayor Ford needs a feel good story, you could start with him.

Too Bad Hazel doesn't have a track in her backyard, she wouldn't stand for this.

Will there be an update from any of the associations anytime soon, it would be nice to hear about some progress and any help they need from the industry to turn up the pressure.
Will you be able to get the CBC to run a one hour special on these issues now that they seem to be involved? That would really expose the urgency and the life and death situation of an amazing industry and sport plus how rural Ontario will suffer and all others that make a living from this industry.

Greg Parke

All i can say, toronto/ontario is in big trouble! People of ontario need to wake up before its too late.

Paul Godfrey pushing for a company with a questionable track record to run these casinos. American based companies that would take large amounts of money out of the province. Why would Godfrey choose to promote this path? Not hard to connect the dots.

How much more ammunition does the NDP and the PC need to call a General Election? McGuinty's statement will be the downfall of Liberals all across Ontario. Call in the RCMP to investigate what is going on.

WHAT!!!! MGM has been booted out of New Jersey because of its connections to organized crime in Macau.These wonderful people also have developed Kiddie Kasinos for young " Gamblers in Training". It is insulting to everyone in the province for Godfrey to share a platform with the president of this disgusting ,amoral organization and to pretend that there is nothing for the people of Ontario to be concerned about. The moral corruption is beyond belief.Godfrey and all of the directors of the OLG need to be replaced immediately.

Godfrey really wants to get this deal done. As many have noted, this really stinks now. What advantage is it for him or the OLG to get this Mega Casino. The OLG does fine without it. They might make a little more or a little less one way or the other, so is it worth the risk?

The city of Toronto is in the driver's seat here. If they say no, its pretty much over since Toronto is the only Ontario city with the population that interests the MGM people.

So if I were negotiating for the city of Toronto, I would say yes, we will accept with the condition that we get 25% of the gross (not net). If the MGM balks at that (probably) then a net deal is out of the question. Net deals have a way of not paying anything. Hopefully the city is not that dumb.

Anyway, I hope the whole thing blows up. If the horse racing community was asked I am sure we would make a deal to open a dozen Casinos at Racetrack sites. Surely that is the best of all worlds for MGM and all the communities. Why should only Toronto benefit. Only Toronto!!! Oh yeah, that's the slogan for the Liberals-my mistake.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

All we want to do is race horses the way we have the last 15 years under a tried and tested formula which all communities and governments profitted from. Go to Windsor Sarnia and Fort Eire ask local govt if they are continuing their programs with the monies that were provided by raceway slots. Politicians, time to step up. The NDP should be all over this --- they keep telling us they are the only alternative ....... We have the Breeders Crown in October at Woodbine would be nice to say our sport is safe.....

In reply to by bobbi

Not only should consent for Municipal referendums be re-instated in the OLG constitution but it should also be mandated that no 2nd referendum can be undertaken for another 20 years. This is like watching a dog run after it's tail, round n round we go.
The people said NO before and it's still a NO. This is starting to smell worst and worse. CLOSE FILE AND MOVE ON GODFREY.

Someone remind the Premier this is a democratic society whether he like it or not, and it seems he does not like the idea so its time for him to go! Secondly Mr. Godfrey is NOT an elected official, he was appointed to this position by the same government which apparently thinks this is a dicatorship. His position on this should not be shoved down the throats of Ontario residents. I do not remember it being put into law that Mr. Godfrey was appointed King, President or Czar of Ontario and again its time for the people of this province to stop sitting on there butts and do something about both of these people!

This could be a small step forward for the horseracing industry because someday soon (if they haven't already) the Liberal government and their OLG puppets are going to shoot themselves in the foot and some major newspaper or TV show is going to jump all over it.When that happens we may finally find out what's going on to make them be so stubborn and bullish. Let's keep hoping that Hamilton and Toronto and every other Ontario city vote NO.

It appears that the Libs and Godfrey are feeling some pressure from somewhere or someone to get this wrapped up sooner than later, regardless how undemocratic this process is. This is getting smellier and smellier all the time!

It makes you wonder why the Liberals & the OLG are so dead set against a city taking the time to make the correct decision for it's tax payers.Back in the summer when McGuinty changed the rules to make it unneccesary to hold a referendum it made me think that there was more to this casino deal then meets the eye.
McGuinty's responce to the article in the Ottawa Sun on September 18 titled McGuinty, Hudak and Horwath surprised by organized crime allegations" is more of a surprise to me. Why wasn't he speaking out whem MGM Grands' Pansi Ho and the Chinese mob expressed interest in a Toronto waterfront Casino or when the Las Vegas Sands, who are under investigation in Nevada for bribery, also showed interest. When you make a deal with the DEVIL it will always come back to haunt you. The way Mr. Godfrey is pushing Toronto it makes me wonder who he is dealing with and why he seems so desparate for Torontonians to accept his view on things.
When they made the decision to cancell SAR they figured that we would just run away & hide . We didn't do it then and we aren't going to do it now. People prefer Slots at the Racetracks and if that is not acceptable to Godfrey, the Liberals and their parteners (whom ever they may be)they will be getting many many more refusals untill they let the people decide.They don't own us.They don't listen to us but they don't own us. KEEP FIGHTING. May be we can become a WARHORSE industry. Let's not give up yet . The truth is beginning to come out .

Is this the OLG giving the finger to the citizens of Hamilton? The bullying and threats just show that the government knows that the people of this province do not want casinos, and their inherent social problems, anywhere near their communities. Duncan, Godfrey and their cronies don't care. Since the PC and NDP are supporting the McNaughton bill making casino referendums mandatory, swift passage would stop this nonsense and and restore the democratic process. Does any one know the current status of this legislation? Is it close to third reading?

It is no surprise that McGuinty does not want the question asked. He knows what the answer will be.