The FCC Board of Directors (BOD) met recently to consider what action – if any – it should take in light of two recent provincial decisions that could have a devastating impact on the Flamborough economy.

At issue was the announcement by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to ‘modernize’ its operations across Ontario which will see private entrepreneurs bidding to operate – under OLG oversight – expanded casinos. Under the plan, Ontario will be divided into 29 different ‘zones with a single, expanded casino (more than just slot machines) in each zone. In very simple terms, it could mean that the OLG will award a contract to a proponent who wants to build and operate a casino somewhere in the ‘new’ Hamilton (like downtown). That would mean the end of slots at Flamboro Downs.

The second issue is the announced end to the “Slots At Racetracks’ Program (SARP) effective March 31, 2013. That could have a huge impact – especially in Flamborough – on Ontario’s horse racing industry (and its estimated 60,000 direct and indirect jobs).

After a lengthy and thoughtful discussion, the FCC BOD adopted the following statement:

• Recognizing the potential and significant economic benefits, the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Flamborough Chamber of Commerce (FCC) is not opposed to locating a new casino somewhere within the geographical boundaries of the ‘new’ City of Hamilton.

• The FCC BOD is extremely concerned about the potential ‘double whammy’ to Flamborough’s economy if the current OLG Slots @ Flamboro Downs is closed and the new casino is moved to a non-Flamborough location within the ‘new’ Hamilton. The impact is exacerbated by the provincial decision to terminate the ‘Slots At Racetracks’ Program (SARP) effective March 31, 2013. These two issues combined could risk devastating the Flamborough economy.

• Accordingly, the clear preference of the FCC BOD is that any casino under a restructured OLG scenario be located within the geographical boundaries of the former Town of Flamborough.

The FCC BOD also invited Bruce Barbour of Flamboro Downs to its next meeting in order to become more familiar with what the end of ‘SARP’ may mean for the Flamborough economy.

Stay tuned!!

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