TORONTO - Gamblers spent less in Ontario casinos last year while residents appeared to be drinking pricier alcohol, according to information included in the 2010 provincial budget.

Budget documents released Thursday show that income at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation fell by $83 million, largely due to lower revenues from slot machines and casinos.

However, income from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario is up by $93 million.

Why, you might ask? The government attributed the rise to "stronger-than-expected sales, including better-than-expected sales of higher-margin products," documents said.

There are other interesting factoids from the budget.

For example, while the recession hammered Ontario's economy in the budget cycle that's just ending, the government saved $476 million in interest costs, in part because the Bank of Canada slashed its key lending rate to help prop up the national economy.

The decline in the deficit as the economy improved also helped cut debt-servicing costs.

But the government is warning that higher interest rates appear to be a strong possibility.

The core inflation rate, which excludes items such as food and gasoline, hit 2.1 per cent in Canada in February. That has many analysts thinking an interest rate hike could come as early as June.

"Every one per cent increase in interest rates would cost Ontario a half-billion dollars per annum," Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said in his budget speech. Such costs could result in less money for priorities such as health and education.

Here are some of the risk factors for the current budget that could throw government forecasts out of whack if the economy changes:

Every percentage-point change in the province's Gross Domestic Product means $750 million to the provincial treasury. Real GDP growth of 2.7 per cent is forecast in 2010, but the economy isn't expected to return to its pre-recession size until the first quarter of 2011.

Every percentage-point change in wages and salaries is deemed to be worth $327 million in revenue to the government. It anticipates Ontario workers will see 2.7 per cent growth in wages and salaries in 2010.

The government expects provincial employment to grow by 1.1 per cent in 2010.

However, employment levels are down 158,000 from the pre-recession peak.

"Since employment growth tends to lag real GDP growth, it is expected to take somewhat longer for the province to see the same level of employment as before the global recession," the government said.

An unemployment rate of 9.1 per cent is foreseen for 2010, with a decline to 6.8 per cent by 2013.

If you're wondering how much gasoline will cost on average in 2010, the government foresees an average price of $1.04 per litre.

Every cent-per-litre change at the pump means a $2-million revenue change for the government. It isn't clear whether that price factors in the effect of the HST, which begins on July 1 and will apply to gasoline purchases.

The government sees no growth in its revenue base for gas tax revenues in this new fiscal year.

However, it does see nominal consumption spending rising by 3.9 per cent in 2010. Every percentage-point change means $175 million in revenue for the government.

While projections show 3.5 per cent growth in government revenues for personal income taxes in 2010-11, the corporate tax revenue base is expected to grow by 27.6 per cent in 2010-11.

Corporate profits are expected to grow by 31 per cent this year. Every percentage-point change means $51 million in revenue for the province.

Ontario finance officials say the expected growth is a reflection of the province coming out of a recession.

"No other Canadian jurisdiction experienced a sharper decline in corporate tax revenues between 2007-08 and 2009-10," government documents said.

Corporate tax revenues are also more volatile than personal income tax revenues even in normal times, they said.

With Ontario's economy being so export-oriented, the government warns that our economic health will depend on the U.S. economy recovering from its troubles.

The government didn't quantify the impact, but it is worried about the continuing high value of the Canadian dollar.