A Liberal government plan to modernize the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. with new casinos and billions more in profits was “overly optimistic,” Ontario’s auditor general says in a damning new report.
Devised in 2012, the expansion plan has failed to live up to its billing with OLG cutting its projection for an extra $4.6 billion a year in gaming profits by almost 50 per cent after large cities including Toronto and Ottawa rejected new casinos, Bonnie Lysyk found.
“The government and OLG did not do enough preparation and planning before launching an ambitious, ‘best-case scenario’ modernization plan for Ontario’s gaming industry,” Lysyk said in the 70-page report.
Lysyk also found the “abrupt cancellation” of a program that shared slot machine revenues with horse racing tracks has had a significant impact on that industry, since alleviated with assistance from Premier Kathleen Wynne’s administration.
The plan was approved by former premier Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet — including Wynne — two years ago. She has since replaced the leadership at OLG, including former chairman Paul Godfrey, who was put in the job by McGuinty and former finance minister Dwight Duncan in 2009.
The gaming corporation’s increased profits were to help the Liberal government, which has promised to balance the budget by the spring of 2018, shrink its deficit without raising taxes.
Lysyk’s report was requested by the legislature’s public accounts committee last year.