JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
NIAGARA FALLS – A provincial Tory government would wind-down Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, consider selling off Niagara’s commercial casinos and otherwise get out of the day-to-day operation of gambling parlours, says Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak say.
Hudak, MPP for Niagara West-Glanbrook, unveiled aspects of his party’s gaming policy Monday during a press conference outside Fallsview Casino Resort, in Niagara Falls.
“We’re heading toward a $30-billion deficit. We’re in a deep hole,” said Hudak.
“That means we’ve got to make some tough decisions about what government should focus on what it should get out of.”
Hudak continued: “So when it comes to gambling – just like we see worldwide – let’s let businesses that specialize in the area run them. You’ll get a better product, you’ll give more revenue at the end of the day to the taxpayer and then have the government be a tough and respected regulator to ensure the game is done honestly.”
Niagara’s two resort casinos – like those in Windsor and Rama, Ont. – are government owned, but privately operated.
“Even in the four (casinos) where there is a thin veil of private-sector management, the government actually manages day-to-day operations,” said Hudak.
“Any kind of advertising they want to do, any kind of commercial, government bureaucrats have to give them the stamp of approval.
“Government bureaucrats actually tell them where to put slot machines. They tell them to have green gaming initiatives.”
On the future of the horse-racing industry, which has been rocked by the Liberal government’s decision last spring to end the slots-at-racetracks revenue-sharing program, Hudak said his party will soon be releasing its position.
Hudak has been and remains a vocal critic of many aspects of the government’s plans to modernize gambling in Ontario.
“I’m concerned about this that the government is basically empire-building with the OLG – that they’re going to plow under the race track slots and toss tens of thousands of people out of work in the horse-racing and agricultural sectors to build 29 casinos God knows where.,” said Hudak, who served as a cabinet minister in past PC government’s of former premiers Ernie Eves and Mike Harris.
“It makes no sense.”