* Province to allow Toronto casino pending local approval
* Lottery arm report says can raise C$1 bln in revenues
By Jon Cook
TORONTO, March 12 Ontario's government
cleared the path on Monday for the opening of a new Toronto-area
casino as part of a broader plan by the debt-ridden Canadian
province boost its revenues from gambling and lotteries.
The Toronto-area casino, which would still require a
business study and local approval, was one of several proposals
from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) which the
government-owned corporation said could boost its revenues by
C$1 billion ($1 billion) annually.
The province's Liberal minority government approved the
casino idea and some of OLG's other proposals in the hopes they
will help with its push to eliminate a C$16 billion budget
deficit by 2018.
"We are focused, more than ever, on balancing the budget,"
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said in a statement. "Modernizing
OLG's operations and business model is an example of how we are
ensuring our assets are delivering the greatest value."
The government also called for the private sector to take on
a bigger role in order to make operations more efficient.
Ontario's gambling industry includes a Caesars
Entertainment-operated casino in Windsor, Ontario's
border city with Detroit.
Other OLG proposals included diversifying away from slot
machines to provide more table games such as blackjack and poker
favored by younger gamblers. The corporation also wants to add
lottery terminals in supermarkets, big box stores and other
OLG said it needed to find a way to make up for a drop-off
in gambling by Americans in Ontario. It said revenues from
facilities near the U.S.-Canadian border have fallen C$700
million in the last decade. A rising Canadian dollar has hurt
many Canadian businesses reliant on U.S. tourists.
Last year the OLG generated C$2 billion in net revenue for
Ontario's finances are under scrutiny after a report
commissioned by the government said last month the province must
curb spending growth to keep the deficit from spiraling out of
Last week Duncan told Reuters he will likely announce small
privatization efforts and slightly improved growth and revenue
projections in his upcoming budget.