OLG chairman Paul Godfrey sacked, entire board resigns in protest

olg-paul-godfreyOntario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) chairman Paul Godfrey has been sacked and his entire board has resigned in protest, creating gambling confusion in Canada’s largest province. Rumors of a shakeup had started over the weekend, and Godfrey’s dismissal came at a Thursday meeting with Finance Minister Charles Sousa. Following the meeting, Godfrey told a press conference that he hadn’t been given “any reason for this decision. Nor do I think there’s a particularly good one. I was fired.”

Sousa issued a statement praising Godfrey for having “led a significant turnaround” in OLG’s fortunes, but offered no insight into why Godfrey got the boot. Premier Kathleen Wynne reportedly has a short list of possible successors already drawn up, but cabinet secretary Peter Wallace will serve as interim chairman, even if his first board meeting is something of a lonely affair. Claiming to be “shocked” by Godfrey’s walk down the gangplank, the former board said they had no choice but to quit, although they did so “with significant regret.”

Wynne, who has made no secret of her lack of enthusiasm for gambling, took over as premier in February following the resignation of Dalton McGuinty and long after OLG had embarked upon a sweeping expansion plan that included new land-based casinos and the launch of online gambling. (eGamingReview reported that OLG will launch a request for proposals for both casino and bingo software providers sometime this summer, with a special emphasis on mobile, tablet and smartTV technological prowess.)

Godfrey said he understands that Wynne might want to install someone else in his role but said his “main concern is that the momentum created could falter.” A senior government official told the Toronto Star the extra $1.3b in annual tax revenue the deeply indebted province had expected to reap via OLG’s expansion plans “is in jeopardy.” Godfrey said Wynne told him she wanted to take OLG in a different direction, but he didn’t believe “this government can afford to go in a different direction.”