The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is announcing today it is permanently closing its slot machine operations at racetracks in the three border communities of Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia.
The closures of OLG Slots at Windsor Raceway, Fort Erie and Hiawatha in Sarnia are part of OLG's plan to modernize lottery and gaming in Ontario following a steady decline of U.S. visitors to Ontario gaming sites and changing customer preferences.
"While this was a difficult decision to make, it was necessary. Fewer Americans are crossing the border to play slot machines at border sites. A decade ago, border casinos returned a net profit of $800 million a year. Today, that profit is less than $100 million and falling," said OLG President and CEO, Rod Phillips. "With OLG's plan to modernize the province's lottery and gaming sector, we will create some 2,300 net new industry jobs and about 4,000 service sector jobs. Gaming will be more convenient for customers, profitable for Ontario taxpayers and safer with the expansion of our gold standard approach to Responsible Gaming."
As a result of today's announcement, all three slot facilities in Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia are temporarily closed to the public for 24 hours until March 15 at 9 a.m. (EDT).
"We regret the impact today's decision will have on employees who are affected by these impending closures," said Phillips. "We hope our customers in the Windsor, Fort Erie and Sarnia areas understand our decision to temporarily close these three locations for 24 hours so we can properly attend to and support our employees."
OLG currently expects to continue reasonable financial contributions to the affected municipalities until March 31, 2013, in order to assist with the transition. OLG also intends to continue to make reasonable payments to the operators of these racetracks until March 31, 2013, as long as live horse racing events continue. The Provincial Government has announced that the province-wide Slots at Racetrack program will be ending March 31, 2013.
"In order to be more responsive to our customers as we modernize our business, we will expand, relocate and contract OLG gaming sites. These three site closures are difficult, but are an important first step. The discussions with key stakeholders regarding potential relocations or new facilities will begin shortly. We will keep employees and the public up to date or our progress," added Phillips.
In "Modernizing Lottery and Gaming in Ontario," a report delivered to the Minister of Finance on March 12, 2012, OLG outlined a proposal to transform lottery and gaming in Ontario to modernize the system and create jobs. By modernizing lottery and gaming, in addition to initiatives currently underway, in five years OLG will contribute an additional $1.3 billion annually to key public priorities and usher in $3 billion in private sector capital investment in the province.
The report made three key recommendations to reform Ontario's gaming and lottery industry:
Become More Customer-Focusedfrom the Ontario Lottery and Gamming Corporation
Expand Regulated Private Sector Delivery of Lottery and Gaming
Renew OLG Role in Oversight of Lottery and Gaming.