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Community Enrichment Through Casino Host Agreements

By Manny Wood.
Fact checked by Wilbur Thompson.

Pickering Benefits from Casino Hosting

The coffers of Pickering have swelled by a substantial $4 million thanks to its partnership with the Pickering Casino Resort. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) recently issued a payment to the city, totaling $4.1 million for the second quarter, spanning from July 1 to September 30. As the fiscal year stretches from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024, Pickering’s financial infusion has climbed to nearly $10.3 million. Since the grand opening of the gaming establishment in July 2021, Pickering’s windfall has surpassed an impressive $34.7 million.

These financial allocations to host communities adhere to a uniform formula, consistently applied across all gaming sites in Ontario, employing a graduated scale derived from gaming revenues generated at the host location. “OLG continues to be a proud partner in hosting gaming communities,” commented Peter Bethlenfalvy, Pickering-Uxbridge MPP. “Municipality Contribution Agreement payments help these municipalities fund priorities such as community infrastructure, parks and recreation, and local healthcare facilities, thereby benefiting families and residents.”

Since 1994, host communities have collectively received over $2 billion in nontax gaming revenue.

Niagara Falls Flourishes with Casino Hosting Funds

The allure of Niagara Falls extends beyond natural wonders as it thrives on the support derived from hosting two prominent casinos. Annually, city staff prepares a report to apprise the public of the generous funding contributed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp, following the approval of a new contribution agreement in 2013. This agreement significantly elevated the city’s casino-hosting fees, replacing the prior fixed annual rate of $3 million with quarterly funding calculated as a percentage of revenue from Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara. This has consistently amounted to over $20 million per year, transforming the city’s financial landscape.

Despite annual reporting and media coverage over the past decade, residents persist in seeking answers about the utilization of these funds. To address this, finance director Tiffany Clark emphasized the importance of transparency and included a staff report in Tuesday’s agenda, offering a comprehensive summary of OLG commitments since 2013, complete with detailed attachments delineating the purpose and projects funded by the contributions. The municipality has also designated a dedicated webpage to facilitate easy access to this information.

“We feel it’s important to be transparent about the OLG funding, and that’s why we include that level of detail, but it is absolutely a response to the public comments (of) where does the money go?” said Clark. “As much as we put that on our website, it seems like people don’t seek out the information.”

Living Sky Casino Boosts Community Grants

Living Sky Casino in Swift Current has once again demonstrated its commitment to the local community by making a generous donation to the City’s Community Grant Program. The casino, having enjoyed a record-breaking fiscal year in terms of revenue, presented a substantial check for $120,531.40 to support local initiatives.

Swift Current Mayor Al Bridal was on hand to receive the check and expressed his gratitude, emphasizing the importance of the casino’s agreement to reinvest in the community. Chrissy Carter, events and programs manager with the City’s Community Services Division, elucidated the allocation of the grant, highlighting its support for economic, social, and cultural development, justice and health initiatives, senior and youth programs, and community infrastructure development and maintenance.

Mayor Al Bridal further noted that the utilization of these funds would be determined in a future city council meeting. Living Sky Casino’s General Manager, Ashley Petersen, presented the check to city representatives, affirming the casino’s commitment to giving back to the communities it serves. Petersen expressed pride in their meaningful contribution to Swift Current, especially considering the challenges brought about by COVID-19.