Ontario High Rollers Hit Freebie Jackpot - Thursday 15th of December 2005

ONTARIO – As reported by the Toronto Star: "There is such a thing as a free lunch at Ontario's government-owned casinos — as well as hotel rooms, NFL tickets, Rolex watches and tropical vacations. The casinos spent more than $300 million on perks like these last year to lure gamblers to the card tables and slot machines.

"But a Star investigation of the widespread and growing use of 'comps' found that the provincial government has no control over what they are, how many are given out or who gets them at its four Las Vegas-style commercial casinos in Rama, Windsor and Niagara Falls, raising questions over its level of oversight of the private operators.

"Complimentary gifts are part of an even larger pool of $700 million the provincial gaming corporation spent last year to market and promote gambling — a number that keeps growing despite plummeting commercial casino profits.

"…The OLGC revealed that, unlike the province's 21 smaller charity casinos and slot venues, which are run by the OLGC, commercial casinos are operated by private corporations. As such they are not subject to freedom of information laws, nor can they be compelled to release the information. Casinos call their list of comps, particularly to high rollers, 'highly confidential.'

"…Revenues sent to government coffers by the commercial casinos, where most comps are doled out, are down 42 per cent, to $443 million from $762 million, since 2003. Comps, meanwhile, have risen by 15 per cent. Partly this is due to the opening of a second Niagara Falls casino in 2004, but also to heavier marketing efforts, the OLGC says…"

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