Ottawa’s casino might have a new operator by spring

Rideau Carleton Raceway slots privatisation bid may have a winner next spring, according to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

Canada.- A new private operator for the Rideau Carleton Raceway casino could be announced this spring, as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is getting closer to a decision.
Last February, OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti stated that the winning bidder will be picked out of a list of up to five pre-qualified contenders. The first stage of the privatisation bid ended last October and Bitonti said that the firm date for the final announcement is yet to be determined.

It’s been almost seven years since the province asked OLG to embark on a thorough review of the region’s gaming structure. In November 2012, the agency requested for pre-qualifications to narrow down to five the number of bidders. Bitonti didn’t reveal the amount of original candidates but said that there are currently “a lot of sensitivities” among the final five and explained: “All of these companies know who they are bidding against because it’s a small community.”

The privatisation plan got delayed multiple times due to a number of obstacles that forced OLG to cancel its requests for pre-qualifications. From provincial elections to a labour strife, the process went through several difficulties but it’s now getting closer to an end.

The city has stated that it wants a maximum of 21 new gaming tables added to the 1,250 slot machines already at the casino. Any further changes to those numbers must be allowed by the local government.

The City Hall receives 5.25 percent of the first US$65 million of net annual slot revenues according to the current agreement, with its share declining on subsequent amounts. On average, it collects from OLG about US$5 million a year for its share of the facility’s slots dividends.

The new private operator will take over the lease from the OLG and will be reponsible for any renovations in the casino and everything related to daily operations. Bitonti believes that private operators are better equipped to maximise earnings from gaming facilities in the Ontario area.

OLG spokesperson also explained that this new plan will release taxpayer dollars from expenses such as casino renovations and maintenance, but will still get a portion of its revenues.

On its website, OLG celebrated the plan by saying that it will allow the agency “to focus on its conduct and role – maximising the province’s return and ensuring Ontario’s Responsible Gambling standards are upheld.”