MPP Monte McNaughton’s private members’ bill C76 passed with a vote of 57/19 on May 3rd in the Ontario Legislature.
The bill, which requires referendums in municipalities before any new gaming sites can be established, now goes before the Standing Committee on Finance and then to a third and final vote. This bill is important as the Ontario horse industry deals with the slots-at-racetracks crisis.
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association supported the passing of Bill C76, as they believe requiring referendums prior to the approval of any new gaming facilities will ensure that gaming facilities will continue to be hosted only by those communities that support them, which is the industry’s best chance of preserving a mutually beneficial relationship with the OLG in the future.
A number of communities in rural Ontario benefit from nearly two billion dollars of expenditures incurred by Ontario’s horse racing and breeding industry, in addition to the economic benefits enjoyed by the seventeen communities that host racetracks and slot facilities.
The OHRIA says the OLG’s plans to expand gaming in Ontario will continue to cause strife in the urban centres where casinos are being proposed and rural communities soon to lose their racetracks and slot facilities. Meetings have already begun between OLG and communities they would like to consider for future facilities. Extensive lobbying efforts are underway to bring a casino to Toronto’s waterfront. It is clear the Ontario Legislature needs to act fast, while there is still an opportunity to do so.