Partnering with the OLG on a casino is like going into business with the mob
It’s funny how the money our shining new casino is supposed to earn for Toronto is already shrinking, even before it is approved.
After releasing a report that claimed a downtown casino could earn the city as much as $168 million in hosting fees annually, the OLG now says the number is more like $50 to $100 million a year.
What changed, since the first figure was floated to sell the dumb and trusting public on the idea that a casino would be a windfall?
Let me guess. The OLG knows the real number would be far less than half of $168 million, and that it would later be accused of an enormous deception if it became the basis for city council to approve a casino.
If it ever happens, a casino is more likely to net the city no more than $40 million, tops.
We could save it up for 20 or 30 years and use it as a down payment on a subway line.
It’s kind of like the casino business itself – built on the lie at the heart of all gambling: You can get beat the game, even when the odds say otherwise.
People walk out of casinos every day with more money than they started with. The short term variations of numbers or the fall of cards can just as easily favour the player as the house.
We’ve all heard of somebody who fed 20 bucks into a slot machine and won $2000.
And if nobody ever won, the suckers would tap out sooner and stop showing up.
But casinos aren’t in business to lose. The odds of every game are stacked against the player, which means the house will surely get the money, especially from players who keep coming back.
Over time, the odds always hold up.
What is needed to make the swindle work is a healthy supply of marks. That’s why the OLG has pegged Toronto or one of the surrounding municipalities as the next lucky winner of a casino.
There’s a lot of untapped money around here, due to a healthy local economy. A casino in Toronto, or one anywhere in the GTA, gives the OLG a way to get its hands into well-padded pockets it has yet to pick.
Anyone who believes the OLG and Queen’s Park is entering into a partnership with Toronto, where a big chunk of the take will be shared with the city, is naïve.
The driving force behind the push for a Toronto casino is the huge provincial deficit and the evaporation of revenue from Windsor, where the fabulous casino built half a dozen years ago is almost always empty.
One more thing: The OLG partnered with Ontario's horse racing industry in the mid-90s to put 20,000 slot machines into race tracks, which was wildly successful for both sides, and continues to be for the province.
But after the province tanked and went $16 billion in the hole, revisionism was applied to the partnership. It became a “subsidy” that might prevent Grandma from getting good health care, unless it was dropped.
The slot machines will stay in the racetracks and the OLG will toss them a few crumbs as rent, which will close many small tracks, devastate Ontario racing and throw tens of thousands of people out of work.
That’s how the OLG rewards its partners.