Politics
New gambling machines same as slots: Horseracing writer

Employees of the OLG Slots at Fort Erie Race Track were given their termination notices and told the slots would be shut down April 30, 2012.

Credits: MIKE DIBATTISTA/QMI AGENCY

JONATHAN JENKINS | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - Electronic gambling in Ontario's bingo halls looks a lot like slot machines to Darryl Kaplan.

"They act like slot machines, they look like slot machines, they essentially do the same as slot machines," Kaplan, editor of Trot Magazine for Standardbred Canada, said.

The new machines are featured at about six Ontario bingo halls, including Peterborough's recently refurbished Delta Bingo.

"I find it disingenuous to say we're not putting in slot machines to Delta Bingo and then to put those machines in."

Meant to mimic a typical break-open or Nevada ticket, the machines offer a non-interactive digital version of the popular pull-tab game.

But Kaplan said he sees little difference between the new machines and regular slots, which are banned by regulation from bingo halls.

"Essentially, in a slot machine you're putting in your money and you're pressing spin," Kaplan said.

"With these machines, you're putting in your money and pressing spin."

Kaplan said it's particularly galling to see Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) pump money into modernizing bingo halls at the same time it scraps the Slots At Racetrack revenue sharing program that sent about $345 million a year to racetracks around the province.

"We've been really open about this and it's not like we're hiding anything," OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti said. "They want to characterize it one way. They're welcome to do that."

But Bitonti said the machines are not slot machines, but a new form of electronic gambling that could go into any bingo halls where owners want them.

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