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Alberta Puts Charitable Casino report On Hold: Casinos Update

A report concerning the future of charitable casinos in the Canadian province of Alberta was shelved by Solicitor General Frank Oberle on Tuesday.

Based on travels to nine cities, six recommendations made by three MLAs were offered in the report. Opinions from more than 1400 Alberta residents and 400 written submissions with an estimated cost of $21,000 are also included in the 86 page report.

Oberle stated that he feels the recommendations in the report are not the way to go, and announced plans not to do anything for neither for charitable casinos nor for online casino gambling in the immediate future. Stating that there is no cause for concern, Oberle added that existing policies would be maintained for the remaining budget year.

In response to charities' concerns over unequal distribution of raised money at casinos throughout the province, the committee was formed in 2009.

The Committee, whose recommendations included suggestions that the province redraw casino region boundaries so that money is distributed equitably, was chaired by MLA Dough Griffiths. This would also make wait times similar for all charities involved, it was felt.

Charities in Calgary raise an average of $47,000 annually compared to $7,000 for Camrose, according to the report. Charities in Lethbridge have an average wait time of 34.5 months to hold a casino compared to Fort McMurray at 16 months.

While the committee chair is paid $1500, committee members are paid $1000 a month to sit on the committee. The report raised as many questions as it answered and would research other ways to offer solutions to the problems raised by report submitted six months ago as said by Oberle.


Sam Houston Race Park Supports Austin for Slot Machines

Penn National Gaming Inc., at Sam Houston Race Park, recently acquired 50 percent joint ownership.

CEO of Sam Houston Race Park, Shawn Hurwitz said, the partnership will help make Texas racing competitive again.

Hurwitz said, “Over the past decade, the ability of Texas racing to remain competitive has been severely impacted as horse owners and horsemen have left to race in neighboring states where slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities have generated larger purses”.

Hurwitz added that the provided gaming tracks at racetracks are authorized. To bring quality racing and thousands of jobs back to Texas quickly, Penn’s gaming expertise, financial resources and track record of developing integrated racing and gaming facilities will provide SHRP the opportunity.

CEO of Penn National Gaming Inc. Peter Carlino said, “As the nation’s largest owner, operator and investor in pari-mutuel racing operations, we believe there are opportunities to strengthen existing operations, particularly given the demographics of Houston”.

Andrea Young, President of SHRP said she believes the partnership will create a synergistic relationship between the race park, Penn National and the community.

Young said, “At the tune of 30 percent tax rates on gaming, this is money Texas is losing to neighboring states. Texas is already gaming legally on horse tracks and lottery tickets. Slot machine entertainment on our facilities should be no different.”

To the community occurring beyond the racing and gaming entertainment itself, Young also noted that many people never observe the economic gains.

Young said, “Job creation is a major factor. A competitive racing facility attracts horse farms and breeders, veterinarians, groomers, trainers, jockeys, increased feed and fuel sales, and more employment opportunities at the race park itself.”

Young supports the idea of slot machine entertainment at SHRP and she suggested that residents talk to their legislators to make their opinions known.