Hamilton Not Wilting Under OLG/Liberal Pressure

Published: September 25, 2012 02:35 pm EDT

Hamilton city councillors are continuing to ask the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. simple questions and, to this point, have received nothing but vague to little concrete feedback. “We need a lot more information --- if we say 'yes,' what’s our share of the profits? Is Flamboro OK? There are a lot of outstanding issues."

According to a report by the Hamilton Spectator, those are the words of Hamilton Ward 12 Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, who went on to say, "it’s way too early to make a decision on this. It may be the right thing, but I just want to know all the revenue, the social costs, a potential location.”

On Wednesday, September 19, during an extensive General Issues Committee meeting in Hamilton City Council, representatives from the OLG and racino gaming operator Great Canadian Gaming Corp. discussed multiple items in relation to the OLG's controversial gaming modernization plan. Questions regarding gaming revenues, the location for a possible casino, the possibility of a 2014 municipal referendum on the topic, the ultimate parameters of the gaming zone, etc., were all asked during the session. The OLG answered virtually none of the most important questions council asked in order to make a prudent decision on the touchy matter. Instead of answering the question while in physically front of council, the OLG opted to respond one day later, via letter, and stated that a municipal referendum on the hot-button matter would not be supported by the OLG, and ultimately the minority Ontario Liberal Party, in any way, shape or form.

The archived footage of the marathon council session, which lasted six and a half hours, is now available for viewing in its entirety here (please note that the OLG reps begin speaking at roughly the one-and-half-hour mark, while the Great Canadian reps begin speaking at roughly the four-hour-and-ten-minute mark).

The OLG representatives that appeared before Hamilton Council consisted of Tony Bitonti (senior manager, media relations communications and media relations), Larry Flynn (Senior VP, gaming) and Jake Pastore (manager, community and municipal relations). To view the PDF presentation the OLG presented to Hamilton Council, click here.

The Great Canadian reps which appeared before council consisted of CEO Rod Baker and the company's executive director of racing operations, Bruce Barbour. To view the PDF presentation Great Canadian presented to Hamilton Council, click here.

The Hamilton Spectator report has quoted Ward 13 Councillor Russ Powers as saying that he still believes that a referendum is needed to truly decide the Hamilton casino issue, regardless of what pressure the OLG is trying to put on council. “I would strongly suggest that council says 'no' to the OLG now and still put a referendum to all Hamilton citizens in a 2014 Municipal Elections question ... let the people state their preference one way or the other.”

"Council just formed a subcommittee last week to determine what conditions should be met for a casino in Hamilton," Ward 7 councillor Scott Duvall told the Hamilton Spectator this past weekend. "The subcommittee has not had a meeting yet, and we should at least allow them some time to work on proposals.”

(With files from the Hamilton Spectator)

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Heres the reason McGuinty changed the wording of the referendum act behind closed doors and is the reason the OLG is putting pressure on these municipalities, but there is one thing they are forgetting and that is in the Ontario Lottery Gaming Act it states they must have approval of the citizens before a casino can be built, also the same applies to the Alcohol and Gaming Act. Monte McNaughton's Bill has been in Committee since April and look how fast they passed that Education Bill! What is wrong with these politicians?

In reply to by kpmcbride

No doubt Ottawa is in a different situation from Hamilton because of its close proximity to Quebec's casino which is minutes from downtown Ottawa. But on the other hand Fort Erie, Sarnia and Windsor were all close proximity to the competition ? I don't see the OLG building new casinos there !

I hope the Ottawa city council acts as responsibly, but I am afraid that the Liberal mayor is plowing ahead without any intention of consulting his constituents. I have received a copy of a memo he sent to his councillors Sept. 24. I quote: "my consultations with Council indicate that the vast majority of members of Council do not favour holding a divisive referendum on the issue of gaming. Instead we should let the best proposal come forward based on industry expert opinion, make a decision, and then let residents vote with their feet."