Michele Mandel wrote an article in the Toronto Sun that probably has the execs at the OLG cringing because of the timing. It has to do with a potential $3.5 Billion class action lawsuit on behalf of more than 11,000 problem gamblers who self excluded themselves yet were able to get by casino security and continue to feed their habit.
Now, I want to make something clear, I do realize that for some, gambling is an uncontrollable addiction much like drinking for some and biting nails for others. However, the liability should fall squarely on the individual gambler when it comes to their falling off the wagon. However, in the case of the OLG, because it is a branch of the government, they wound up going too far, and basically signed a check their butt couldn't cash. They put perfume on the fact they were gambling enablers by starting a self exclusion program that did put the onus on themselves to do impossible things in order to keep problem gamblers out of their gambling dens.
It is obvious that the way it was set up, the OLG was completely liable for problem gamblers who got through the front doors of casinos. Why? According to Mandel, they settled 9 lawsuits with an average payout of $167,000. This is a bad precedent when it comes to future lawsuits and especially the $3.5 Billion pending class action suit. If it is allowed to happen, it is very likely that the OLG will be forced to make a huge settlement.
The timing of this hitting the media might make the OLG's quest to find new operators very difficult. Even though technologies have improved, and self excluded gamblers have a much harder time getting into a casino today versus 5 years ago, the precedence set in Ontario may not be worth the risk of operating a casino. The OLG, by ridding itself of operator status is attempting to clear itself of future liabilities, but they will be forced to impose major sanctions against those operators who allow problem gamblers to slip through the cracks as their role to govern casinos will expand. The new operators will most likely take on the liability of future lawsuits, and even though they will argue that they did their best in keeping problem gamblers out, and that they, as private operators, shouldn't be held as responsible as a government operated casino should be, precedent is still precedent.
Rumour has it that things are not going swimmingly in the OLG's quest to find suitors to operate casinos. Political uncertainty, potential referendums, bad press, and tremendous backlash from the horse racing industry has turned Dwight Duncan's Golden Mile into a Sewage Plant.
Speaking of Duncan and his ruthless web of deceit, it appears that he did have a plan to put a casino at Ontario Place and misled (umm lied perhaps) when pulling the plug on the Ontario landmark. Duncan at the time probably "thought" it was a slam dunk, and probably promised some cronies that they were going to get very lucky.
I have to say that Dalton McGuinty and Dwight Duncan give me the creeps. I'm half tempted to move to Kitchener, just so I can vote against the Ontario Liberals in the upcoming by-election.