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2012-05-22 at 14:26

Doubling down?

By Jamie Smith,
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It appears that anything, including a move, is possible with OLG’s new plan for the Thunder Bay casino.

A request for information went out to the private sector last week to operate the 13,000-square foot facility. With operation, the private sector could expand the casino’s 450 slot machines to 600 or even add entertainment complexes or hotels.

Because the province has also included 29 new gaming zones in Ontario, the casino could even be moved within Thunder Bay’s new zoning designation, which radiates from the casino’s current location on Cumberland Street from Hodder Avenue to Arthur Street.

While it’s still early, OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti said moving, expanding and adding would be up to the private sector operator.

“If a private sector feels that they could build a bigger facility one to better meet the needs of the community then there is the possibility of relocation of that facility,” he said.

That would need to be approved by OLG and the province first Bitonti said. The process of what the casino would look like and who would run the day-to-day operations is still in its infancy.

Once OLG has reviewed the request for information, a request for proposals will come out later this fall. Bitonti stressed that the casino would not be completely private.

“OLG will still have to be the operating mind behind the facility,” he said. “We’re not getting out of the casino game we’re just realigning ourselves.”

Mayor Keith Hobbs said the move might be a good one when he spoke to OLG earlier this month.

“I even suggested a site by the highway and they’re actually quite excited about that with a hotel component maybe. They thought it was a good idea but we’ll see what happens it’s kind of early to tell right now,” Hobbs said.

Jim Comuzzi, who owns Rooster’s on St. Paul Street, said it’s hard to form an opinion on whether a private operator would be good for the casino.

“It seems like a little bit of a political juggernaut where the parties are not again working together for the good of the people. They’re working against each other for political gain,” he said.

But having an expanded casino downtown would help the area he said especially with waterfront and a possible new events centre.

“Between those three entities we could really bring Thunder Bay north back to the stature that it had in the late 50s and 60s where it was a hub of activity.”

The casino generates more than $50 million a year in revenue from 964,582 visitors with the city getting around $2.2 million from a percentage of slot revenue. Hobbs said as always he wants to see an increase in that percentage.

“That’s kind of up in the air right now,” he said.



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panzerIV says:
The city has spent millions to increase the viability of the cores. They have designated the different cores for entertainment, shopping and administration. Why would the city (or even mayor) purpose to take the casino out of the entertainment district?

Yes it would provide construction jobs if a new one was built but it would be taking a couple steps back with all the work the city has done to rebuild these area's. I'm sure if a private owner wanted to put a hotel in the area then building on top of the current building likely would be the best option.

Sometimes I shake my head at what goes on in this city. Wasn't that casino built late 90's?
5/22/2012 2:59:07 PM
tannharr says:
I think a new casino with a hotel and entertainment component would suit the waterfront. Or hey, even get the private company to build onto the new proposed event centre, and they can work together to provide an ultimate entertainment experience. The existing casino can be levelled and a parking lot or parkade can be built in its place.
5/22/2012 5:54:50 PM
eastender says:
I think you havae taken too many sleeping pill. Wake up!
5/22/2012 10:42:24 PM
elvis2010 says:
I for one would love to see the casino be moved. Right back to Toronto where it belongs seeing as how they get over 95% of the revenue every year anyways! What a rip off and drain this casino has been on the city!
5/22/2012 3:23:37 PM
Me n My Opinion says:
So using that logic, why not attack Silver City? We spend our hard earned money there and get nothing but way overpriced popcorn out of it. And all of that money goes directly into the bank accounts of shareholders all over the world, gone from our pockets, never to benefit the citizens of Ontario again.

The Casino is a form of entertainment just like the theatre is. As for the problem gamblers, I don't see you on here advocating the abolishment of alcohol which is a lot more damaging to the general public than gambling is. Problem gamblers have so many gambling options as it is, they might as well help fund our health and education systems.

5/23/2012 9:01:25 AM
john says:
“I even suggested a site by the highway and they’re actually quite excited about that with a hotel component maybe. They thought it was a good idea but we’ll see what happens it’s kind of early to tell right now,” Hobbs said.

Has this man been living under a rock? Wasn't the downtown north core supposed to be the Entertainment District? Does this man ever think before he shoots his mouth off?

5/22/2012 4:10:15 PM
TBDR says:
Actually despite your ascertation there is actually a huge case to be made for moving casinos out of downtown cores. Casinos tend to bring an unsavoury clientelle along with regular casino goers. Moving the casino moves that unsavoury bunch away from the downtown, meaning less crime in the cores. Its actually common practice in many communities.

PS: Entertainment district doesn't mean it has to have all of the city's entertainment. That would be akin to putting all one's eggs in a single basket.
5/23/2012 1:39:24 AM
Johnny says:
oh, is that what u suggested?? so thats where the idea came from... good on you
5/23/2012 11:06:02 AM
wayne says:
“That’s kind of up in the air right now,”

Everything Hobbs proposes or promises is up in the air.
5/22/2012 4:18:31 PM
olive garden says:
was not in the proper location to begin from the start, now they want to re-locate or extend good luck- iam all in !
5/22/2012 4:34:48 PM
nvjgu says:
Back when the casino was built I believe there was a vote on the subject, It was for a charity casino if Im not mistaken. Its was suppose to be for charity. This is not the casino I voted for. Get rid of it, it's a vacuum cleaner that distroy's family's and lives.
5/22/2012 4:52:54 PM
bluebear1985 says:
Do we really need a casino at all? If it got out of its current site, I don't see a need to relocate. It should close altogether for the good of the city.
5/22/2012 5:07:54 PM
panzerIV says:
For the good of the city? The Casino pays 2.2 million to the city a year in slot revenues. Then they pay property taxes and wages. They fund community events.

Gamblers will just go to the Grand Portage and we will lose the money. I'd rather there not be problem gamblers and that people just go there to have fun and spend like 10 bucks. Gamblers will find a way to have there fix and I'd rather it go to the government (healthcare, education etc.) then a US company or a online gambling site.
5/22/2012 6:29:35 PM
Johnny says:
Do we really need you at all bluebear?? I don't think so
5/23/2012 2:48:02 PM
steech says:
close it, its all greed there, nobody wins there unless you can afford to throw in 2 to 5000 grand, then you might win a wee bit MAYBE, get rid of it, city council really ought to think before they speak
5/22/2012 5:14:07 PM
tannharr says:
Now that's calling the kettle black! You say all it is there is greed. Yet in your next sentence is that nobody wins there. NOBODY should be going to a casino to WIN. It's a form of entertainment, and should be treated as that. I go in with $100, and either come out with nothing, come out even, or come out a big winner. It's no different if I were to attend a concert or major sporting event. I pay $100 to be entertained, and once it's complete, I leave. Unfortunately, some people ARE greedy and stay until they're ahead, which rarely happens. However, with Grand Portage offering free shuttles, I would rather see the gambling money stay in Thunder Bay than south of the border. I do agree that the city's payout needs to be increased significantly.
5/22/2012 5:58:46 PM
ring of fire dude says:
Well there you go folks ,that's why we haven't heard who the mystery hotel is . Someone had inside information from the Ontario Government about the Casinos going private and they are going to incorporate it into the Waterfront Hotel plan . I really smell something fishy going on down there and it's not smelts .
5/22/2012 6:47:49 PM
Tom Sanderson says:
The city of Thunder Bay should take over operation of the casino. Give OLG the 5% of the slots revenue and the rest goes into the cities bank account. They could get all the people on Ontario works that aren't disabled to work there for their money. They could have a built in daycare so there is no excuse about having to look after the kids. Just think of all the money the city could save and generate if they were to do this. They could even take employees on light duties and have them fill in their day cleaning and polishing.
5/22/2012 8:18:01 PM
The Badger Mountain Hermit says:
That's too IMAGINATIVE for these local oligarchs. Plus, it's not THEIR idea, probably doesn't meet their personal long-held agenda for telling us how to run our own lives here, and how to entertain ourselves with all their lame boring stuff.
5/24/2012 10:38:02 AM
whodo says:
It only makes sense that they move...
they've figured out there is not enough PARKING in the North Core(unlike the multiplex complex consultants)
Remember all the bus loads of people that where going to come from far and wide to gamble at our casino!
It makes sense that they move and build themselves a casino/hotel/ entertainment complex somewhere on the edge of town. It is all abut the bottom line.
5/22/2012 8:37:28 PM
spoiled says:
I am for getting rid of it!!
Just like everything else in Thunder Bay, the only winners with this casino is the managers friends and family.LOL....seriously though the casino has destroyed many lives and there is really not a lot of money here, just a lot of hard working people, ..unless you run the casino or the city!!
5/22/2012 11:17:35 PM
Johnny says:
Im for getting rid of u spoiled!!
5/23/2012 2:47:00 PM
unknowncronic says:
What about the government building?
Isnt it forsale by the government?

Honestly, this "highway location idea" plays well with the property kitty corner to INNOVA PARK!
5/22/2012 11:36:32 PM
ibrando says:
Please relocate from Port Arthur. That area of the city is a real dive, Simpson Street of the North.
5/23/2012 6:11:24 AM
Jon Powers says:

"For the good of the city? The Casino pays 2.2 million to the city a year in slot revenues. Then they pay property taxes and wages. They fund community events"

You are clearly Ignorant!

The OLG Casino gets all of its City Property taxes back from the City of Thunder Bay. The OLG Casino is enrolled in the C.A.R.P. Tax Grant Back Program.

The City gives back all of the City portion of their property taxes to the casino every year.

The city collectes and then gives it back to them every year. This has been public information since 1999. That's why then Mayor Boschoff went behind City councils back to get a Slot Revenue agreement with the once "Charity Casino".

These facts are posted every year in the Budget from the city.

I say move it out to the highway.

Great Story!
5/23/2012 9:57:10 AM
Me n My Opinion says:
You're the master of half truths. And half the truth is every bit as good as a flat out lie. I only thought you half-truthed about the Waterfront, but I see that's not the case.

You're correct in saying that no taxes (by definition) are paid on the government buildings. Instead they all pay an amount to the city in lieu of taxes. It's calculated the same as taxes would be - assessed value times the appropriate tax rate for the type of building.

So you can call it a tax or whatever you want, but at the end of the day, the Casino pays the City of Thunder Bay a municipal-tax-like payment every year. This is on top of the slot machine revenues. I don't know how much the (non)tax is, but likely in the million dollar a year range.
5/23/2012 1:35:56 PM
Johnny says:
For the last time people.... The casino doesnt destroy lives, the people who dont have will power and spend all their $ destroy their lives.. How come you people fail to recognize this. Instead of taking blame where blame is due, you look for the obvious scapegoat.. I suggest that you read self help books on control and quit blaming others for your own weaknesses
5/23/2012 11:14:33 AM
Johnny says:
If you are walking into a casino thinking that you will leave with more than which you started, you are nieve and deserve to lose
5/23/2012 11:17:01 AM
keiths31 says:
So...what if the new operators feel that a highway location, where they can expand and build a hotel, is the best for their operation? What becomes of the old casino? Maybe Keskus can re-open!

5/23/2012 11:45:01 AM
yer joking says:
The new hotel at Marina Park ! An Entertainment Facicility extrodonaire. Canada's Las Vegas of the North. People would flock from miles around. After a night at the New Convention Centre a quick stroll through the Park to the Casino for a bevvy and a little Knosh, the perfect evening Thunder Bay yer on a roll!
5/23/2012 12:38:17 PM
Johnny says:
Has anyone even considered the absurd amount of $ that it will take to generate all this?? Again, shoot first, ask questions later
5/23/2012 2:44:35 PM
TBDR says:
Has anyone told you it would be a private development not a public one? Apparently you missed that part of the story.
5/24/2012 1:32:06 AM
realistic1 says:
There's already an entertainment facility in the north. Ut's called Canal Park in Duluth. Too little too late Thunder Bay. Should have considerd this about 20 years ago.
5/23/2012 5:21:15 PM
Jon Powers says:
Me n My Opinion :

"So you can call it a tax or whatever you want, but at the end of the day, the Casino pays the City of Thunder Bay a municipal-tax-like payment every year. This is on top of the slot machine revenues. I don't know how much the (non)tax is, but likely in the million dollar a year range."

You are so very wrong!

The City of Thunder Bay Gives Back all of the City Taxes Collected from the Casino ever year!

The City of Thunder Bay does not keep a cent of this money as per their C.A.R.P. Propperty Tax Grant Back Program.

Q: Does the City make any money from the Casino?

A: No Not really!

In 2010 the City of Thunder Bay granted back to the OLG Casino over $2.6Million (The amount collected in taxes from the year before).

Stop being Ignorant!

Great Story!
5/25/2012 1:59:25 PM
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