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Ontario First Nation is Indignant About New Great Canadian Casino Resort

By Manny Wood.
Fact checked by Wilbur Thompson.

The Mississaugas of Scugog First Nation (MSIFN) have expressed their displeasure over the Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto’s upcoming opening this summer. Great Canadian Entertainment recently revealed plans for the $1bn entertainment resort in collaboration with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG). However, MSIFN has shown anger over the decision, stating that they are “appalled” and “outraged” and are preparing to mediate their disputes with the government over the expansion of gaming in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in the coming months.

Back in 2016, MSIFN, as the Great Blue Heron Casino’s owner, had entered into agreements with the government and OLG as part of Ontario’s modernization scheme. These agreements were designed to guarantee that the Great Blue Heron Casino was operated in a ‘comparative manner’ to other government casinos in the GTA, with revenue being provided to MSIFN to support development and services for the First Nation. MSIFN Chief, Kelly LaRocca, stated that they had entered into these agreements with the shared understanding that the government and OLG would act in good faith and in accordance with their Honour of the Crown obligations, particularly their contractual obligations set out in the agreements. She added that the government was once again acting without any engagement with MSIFN and to the detriment of the Great Blue Heron Casino at MSIFN.

LaRocca had initially applauded Great Canadian Entertainment’s selection to redevelop the Toronto-area casinos when they won the bid. However, since then, the tribe has repeatedly voiced their concerns about the execution of land-based expansion in the state.

Mediation between the Ontario government and MSIFN over the government’s actions is expected to begin this summer. Meanwhile, GCE is ready to announce an opening date for its new casino in the coming weeks, with the existing Casino Woodbine continuing to operate as usual in the meantime. 

LaRocca commented that they had been engaging with the government, OLG, and Great Canadian Entertainment on these issues for years, and unfortunately they had reached the point of entering mediation in the coming months. Also, she added that the Ford government chose to implement its decisions and ask questions later, showing utter disregard for their First Nation and the Honour of the Crown. They would continue to focus their good faith efforts on mediation and prepare for whatever comes next.

It is worth mentioning that  the $1bn Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto that Great Canadian Entertainment is set to open will become Canada’s most extensive destination casino resort with a 33-acre footprint. It will include a modern Vegas-style casino, an integrated 400-room hotel, a 5,000-seat live entertainment venue, and numerous on-site dining options. Location of the Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto will be at the intersection of Highways 401 and 427.

Great Canadian Entertainment is determined to promote safe play, as it does in all its casinos across Ontario. To achieve this goal, the organization has partnered with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) and has entered into an agreement to construct a PlaySmart center. The center will provide players with the necessary gambling knowledge and tools to develop and maintain positive play habits. The PlaySmart center is part of the organization’s commitment to responsible gaming, and it aims to ensure that players have an enjoyable and safe gaming experience at the new casino resort.