The OLG plans for rebranding have been stopped in their tracks
OLG abandons plans to rebrand
Plans for a costly rebranding of Ontario’s gambling agency to include horse racing in its name have been stopped in their tracks.
A multi-million dollar rebranding of Ontario’s gambling agency to include horse racing in its corporate name has been stopped in its tracks, the Star has learned.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming, which spent $6 million to remove the word “corporation” from its logo in 2006, had been actively considering yet another new name as recently as two months ago.
“Refresh OLG’s brand, based on consultation with the industry, to reflect the integration of horse racing within its mandate, including changing the OLG name to include a reference to the new mandate,” according to an April document.
Sources say Queen’s Park put the kibosh on the scheme after realizing it would cost significantly more than the $6-million rebranding nine years ago under then-premier Dalton McGuinty.
On Thursday, agency spokesman Tony Bitonti confirmed “OLG is not rebranding or changing its name.”
“OLG is working with the horse racing industry to explore branding options for horse racing. This is all part of our commitment to the integration of horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy,” he said.
Bitonti said the publicly owned gambling corporation “will use its marketing expertise to explore an effective consumer-facing brand to support a sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne reversed McGuinty’s decision to eliminate the Slots at Racetracks program, which gave the tracks $3.7 billion in gambling revenues from 1998 through 2012.
That de facto subsidy kept them in business despite dwindling interest in horse racing.
Facing protests in rural Ontario — where the horse-racing industry claims to employ 60,000 people — and under pressure from the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats, Wynne’s Liberals reinstated a financial support program.
The premier, who was then also serving as agriculture minister, pledged $500 million in support over five years when she took the reins from McGuinty in 2013.
At the same time as OLG is moving into horse racing, it is seeking private-sector bids for Ontario’s $3.3-billion-a-year lottery business.
Last September, the agency issued request-for-proposal (RFP) documents to “pre-qualified service providers,” but has declined to identify them for competitive reasons.
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and GTECH-Scientific Games are the only qualified bidders in the now-closed auction after Rogers Communications quietly withdrew its proposal, sources say.
Teachers’ bid is being handled by its subsidiary, Camelot Group, one of the world’s biggest lottery operators.
Camelot runs the U.K. National Lottery, the Irish National Lottery and provides consultancy and management services to the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation of Canada and state lotteries in New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Kentucky.
The other bidder is a joint venture between GTECH, an Italian company formerly known as Lottomatica Group S.p.A., and U.S.-based Scientific Games (SG).
While the two companies compete in some lotto markets, they jointly operate the New Jersey Lottery in partnership with the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) under the name Northstar.
But OMERS is not involved in the OLG play.
There had been hopes at Queen’s Park for a Rogers’ bid because of the telecom giant’s potential for reaching new gamblers with its millions of mobile phone, Internet, and cable television customers.