N.S. Gaming Corp. will no longer pay expenses for committee experts

Months after coming under fire for paying the travel bills of three expert witnesses, the Nova Scotia Gaming Corp. says it will no longer pay the expenses of experts who testify before the Law Amendments Committee at Province House.

The corporation faced criticism last October, including from Premier Stephen McNeil, for funding about $7,100 of flights and hotel bills for three experts connected to the Ontario-based Responsible Gambling Council.

The experts were testifying in favour of a bill the gaming corporation requested, which allows those who have asked to be banned from the casinos in Halifax and Sydney to speed up their requests to end voluntary exclusions. Those amendments passed and came into effect Oct. 11.

The corporation’s revenue is derived from casinos, video lottery terminals and lottery sales, which flows directly to provincial coffers. Last year, the province received almost $170 million from that.

On Wednesday, a letter from Robert MacKinnon, the president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, in response to questions from the goverment from a previous committee meeting was presented. 

In that letter to the public accounts committee dated Jan. 8,  MacKinnon took sole responsibility for the expense and assured officials “we have learned a great deal from this experience.”

MacKinnon said the Crown corporation cut its travel budget by $7,135 to cover the expense.

When the premier found out about the expense arrangement, Stephen McNeil said “Flying people down here to go before the committee was not appropriate.”

Minister of Finance Karen Casey agreed, saying it was “not a good use of taxpayers dollars.”

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