Ottawa’s Health board approves plan to fight problem gambling

Ottawa’s board of health is keen on adopting measures to check the gambling addiction related issues in the region. The councilors will decide whether Hard Rock Casino Ottawa will be allowed to grow operations at Rideau Carleton Raceway.

The board unanimously approved a new four-point plan on Monday devised by staff to check gambling growth in Ottawa. The fact is Ottawa residents gamble both at the Hull casino and also through online gambling websites. Not all such sites are managed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. 

The board led by Coun. Catherine McKenney, expressed its disapproval for gambling expansion in Ottawa. The Board members grilled an OLG representative on Ottawa’s problem gambling. However, Paul Pellizzari representing OLG defended the annual $19-million program of the agency on responsible gaming. He added Hard Rock will have to adhere to responsible gaming standards. The health board expressed worry about online gaming since anyone with mobile phone can play and place bets. There are plans to set up counseling services network to make public aware about problem gambling issues.

Coun. Keith Egli attended as a public delegate and urged the members about setting up strong measures to safeguard people from gambling hazards. He supported the health unit’s plan. He added the monetary request of health unit to Ontario is low. As per his views, $200,000 hike in annual funding is what the province needs. He also lobbied for a one-time transfer worth $150,000 for use in program gambling strategy.

Hard Rock came up with its expansion plan in May last year. This was after the U.S.-based entertainment brand was declared winner by OLG. As per the plan, Hard Rock requires 20 more gaming tables. There are 1250 slot machines to which the company wants to add 750 more units. The development plans also include a 2,500-seat concert theatre along with 200-room hotel.

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