Casino lease extension makes sense: Premier

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    From the Niagara Falls Review:

    Protecting the Ontario government’s own investment in Casino Niagara is the reason it has to be treated differently from the Maid of the Mist, says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, rejecting opposition calls to invite bids from property owners interested in hosting a casino.

    “There is a distinction,” the premier told reporters in Niagara- on-the-Lake Wednesday where he spoke at the Ontario Economic Summit.

    With Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s lease on the casino’s Falls Avenue location set to expire in March, McGuinty said his government’s preference is to have the Crown corporation continue negotiating an extension with landlord Canadian Niagara Hotels.

    The government has two options for Casino Niagara – renew the lease “at a reasonable rate” or abandon the Canadian Niagara Hotels location for a new location to be determined later.

    When Casino Niagara opened in 1996, Ontario Lottery and Gaming pumped $125 million into the old Maple Leaf Village site to convert a defunct amusement park into Ontario’s second commercial casino.

    Building a new casino would mean walking away from the initial investment and some smaller expenditures like the $12 million spent in 2005 when sports betting came in.

    “When you look at it that way, it really makes sense for us to do the best that we can to negotiate a reasonable new lease at the existing site,” McGuinty said. “It was a lot of money to build that casino inside that space.”

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