The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has rejected Hamilton council’s request to put off making a casino decision until it can hold a referendum in the 2014 municipal election.
“We can’t delay. We need to move on,” said OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti.
“We have timelines and we need to meet certain targets.”
Bitonti says OLG representatives took the city’s request to board chair Paul Godfrey and President and CEO Rod Phillips shortly after meeting with city council Wednesday.
They decided they could not postpone a decision for two years because the delay would impact other gaming zones that are undergoing a massive modernization plan.
“We’re not just looking at Hamilton, we’re looking at 28 other gaming zones,” said Bitonti.
Councillor Sam Merulla, who has led the charge for a referendum, is infuriated that OLG dismissed the request in a letter to council the day after hearing it.
“If that’s their only response, it’s the mother of all incompetent responses,” he said.
Bitonti says OLG is sticking to its timelines for sending out RFPs to potential private sector casino operators in fall or early winter.
If Hamilton wants to be involved, he says it needs to say so sooner rather than later.
“We need a clear resolution and (to see) how the public was engaged.”