Gaming is a popular form of entertainment in the Province of Ontario, and has been since OLG’s first casino opened in 1994. Over time, however, player demographics have changed. For instance, residents living in downtown Toronto must currently travel 90 minutes to play at a Blackjack table. There is a clear need to become more customer-focused.
This new approach means that OLG is looking at expanding and consolidating gaming sites, to better reflect where customers live, shop and go for entertainment.
OLG Slots at Fort Erie, OLG Slots at Windsor and OLG Slots at Hiawatha have been closed due to the impact of market conditions. Each of these gaming facilities were adjacent to the U.S. border and, with new casinos in Buffalo and Detroit, the OLG sites were unable to compete in an over-supplied market.
Due to their distance from population centres, some sites are inconveniently located for OLG’s customers. Several sites are being considered for relocation. By moving some sites to more densely populated areas, OLG will be able to broaden its customer base, build newer, enhanced sites, and will stand to increase its return to the province by $100 million.
As part of OLG’s Modernization Plan, five new gaming sites have been proposed. The new sites will only go to areas where there is customer interest, and with explicit municipal approval. The underserved markets of North Bay, Kenora, Collingwood, Belleville, and the GTA are being considered for development. The strategic placement of new sites would be more convenient for customers while adding revenue for Ontario and new host municipalities.
Private Sector Involvement
OLG is currently responsible for 23,000 slot machines, over 500 games tables, and 24 gaming facilities in Ontario. Any maintenance or improvements to existing facilities, as well as any new facilities built under these arrangements, are dependent on taxpayer funding. However, with expanded private sector involvement, OLG could avoid public expenditure on capital, while addressing the interest in gaming in select regions across the province. By engaging the private sector to run the day-to-day operations, and to provide capital investment as well as some operating expenses, OLG could focus on its role as the overseer of the gaming industry – providing greater control over the parameters of gaming, maximizing the province’s return, and ensuring Ontario’s Responsible Gambling standards are upheld.